The desire of every genuine believer is to have confidence in their salvation. Christians long for the assurance that God loves them and has forgiven their sins. As the believer experiences the battle with their flesh and the temptations of the world, however, uncertainty and insecurity begin to creep in. Struggling to find objective assurance, many look within to identify consistent evidence of God's sanctifying grace, only to be disappointed by their own deficiency and inconsistency time and time again.
This is why I set out to write and edit the book, Assurance: Our Confidence in Christ, which just came out last week. It points the reader to the only place where objective assurance can be found, which is the perfect person and perfect work of Jesus Christ. The concise volume has been compiled from the theological richness of Thomas Goodwin's Christ Set Forth and seeks to encourage the believer to look to Christ and Christ alone to discover the only secure anchor and resting place for their soul. Assurance can be purchased through H&E Publishing or Amazon.
Rather than aiming to make God’s name great among the nations, the tower builders of Babel were seeking to make a name for themselves (Gen. 11:1-9). This is one of the first examples we find in Scripture which illustrates that the natural heart of sinful humanity is all about self-exaltation, rather than God-exaltation. Because of the Fall, the heart of humanity has been perverted toward sinful self-promotion instead of God’s glorification.
Not only do we see that same attitude throughout the world, as people just want to make a name for themselves, but it’s worth each of us asking ourselves the question as well: Is your life’s desire aimed at making yourself look good, or is it aimed at pointing people to the greatness of your God? What are you living for?
The 19th century British missionary, C.T. Studd, once wrote a poem that summarizes the whole point of that question quite well. He begins that poem by saying:
“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
R.C. Sproul once said, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” Thankfully, there are no rebel molecules.
Sunday morning, we spent our time in God’s Word focusing on Genesis, chapter 10. In looking at the families and nations that came forth from Noah and his three sons, we were presented with a profound truth concerning the sovereignty of God: Although we may not understand the millions of things God is doing in any particular situation, we can say with absolute certainty that He is in complete control of every detail.
God is sovereign over the macro, as we saw in the three lineages of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and the corresponding nations that were established through them. As Daniel 2:21 says, “He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings.” But God is also sovereign over the micro. In other words, not only can we trust God on a global or cosmic level, but we can trust Him in even the smallest details of our life. The Lord is in control.
Scripture teaches that from the human perspective, we are responsible for our actions. But from the divine perspective, God is sovereign over all things. Therefore, as we trust in the sovereignty of God, let us submit ourselves to the Word of God for the glory of God.
As I stated on Sunday morning, I sincerely believe that gossip is one of the most pervasive, yet destructive sins in the church today. I’m reminded of a quote written by an anonymous author, which says:
“My name is Gossip.
I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing.
I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
Before you repeat a story, ask yourself:
Is it true?
Is it harmless?
Is it necessary?
If it isn’t, don’t repeat it.”
Brothers and sisters, my prayer is that we will seek to conduct ourselves in a godly manner, especially when it comes to our relationships in the church. As we navigate the challenges of being sinners and engaging with other sinners, let’s strive to do so in the most loving and truthful way we possibly can.
In our final portion of Scripture from Sunday, we saw a beautiful picture of God’s grace. In the midst of establishing the Noahic Covenant, the Lord spoke to Noah, saying:
“This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:12-23).
As visually beautiful as that first rainbow must have been, the true beauty of the rainbow is found in what it represents. To understand that, we need to realize that the word “bow” is not merely describing a shape. But instead, this Hebrew word for “bow” is used in Scripture to speak of the weapon used by archers in battle. As the Great Judge and Mighty Warrior, God has drawn back the bow of His judgment, and He has powerfully released an arrow of death, hitting its target perfectly, resulting in the death of millions of souls.
Therefore, in the description God now gives, with the beauty of the rainbow before our eyes, we’re given this picture of a warrior who has just returned from battle. It’s as though He enters into His home, and with His bow in hand, He hangs it up on the wall, demonstrating that there will be peace. For God, that bow that He has hung is the rainbow. And He tells Noah that He has hung it in the clouds, so that every time anyone sees that bow hanging in the clouds, they can be reminded that the Lord has hung it there for good. And my friends, God will keep His promise.
Hey church family, I had the privilege of sharing God’s Word with you Sunday, and I taught out of Genesis chapter 8. Among many takeaways from that passage, probably the one that stood out to me the most was the first 4 words: “But God remembered Noah.” Let’s think about this from Noah’s perspective for a minute. He was on this ark, in the middle of a massive storm, that killed almost everything in the world, except for marine life and the people/animals on the ark. He stayed on that ark for a little over a year, just floating, probably thinking a lot about what happened to everyone who did not listen to his words, who disregarded his work on the ark, and didn’t heed the warning.
In the midst of that, over that year, it could have been easy for Noah to think that God had forgotten about him. Don’t we do the same thing? We struggle whenever something happens in our life that is traumatic or challenging, and we question if God even remembers us. I want to encourage you: whatever it is that you are facing, God remembers you. In fact, God never forgot you. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, you went through a breakup, you lost your job, whatever it is that is causing you to feel destroyed, remember that God hasn’t forgotten you.
Time after time, we see that God never forgets His children. God remembered Noah here. God remembered the Israelites in their slavery in Egypt. God didn’t forget Joseph when he was imprisoned. Jesus’ words in the Great Commission are oh so sweet: “And behold (don’t miss this), I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
This month marks the 505th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church, which became the catalyst and means God would use to spark the Reformation. Volumes have been written about the monumental impact of the Reformation, but if we were to summarize the fundamental aspects, we could do so with the five solas. The word “sola” is a latin word, which means “alone”, or “only”. So, the five solas are five phrases, or sayings, that help articulate, or point to, the major theological principles that emerged from the Protestant Reformation.
Sola Scriptura: Upon Scripture alone- We affirm the Bible is the clearly inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word that is sufficient for all things pertaining to salvation and Christian living.
Sola Gratia: By grace alone- We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Reformers in affirming that salvation is a gift of our sovereign God. God saves those whom He chooses.
Sola Fide: Through faith alone- We affirm that justification before God is obtained through saving faith in the Savior, alone. We do not earn our righteous standing before God. It is a gift of God.
Solus Christus: In Christ alone- We join the affirmation of Scripture and the Reformers that salvation is found solely in the perfect person and perfect work of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria: For God’s glory alone- We affirm that God does all things, including the gracious work of salvation, for His glory. And, He will not share His Glory with another)
This month, as we affirm the solas of the Reformation with our lips, let’s also be sure to proclaim them with our lives!
-- Pastor Kevin
In the midst of humanity’s sinful rebellion, and God’s divine remorse, one man found a glimmer of hope in God’s grace. His name was Noah. Scripture has a great deal to say about the life of Noah:
He was a Righteous Man
First, it tells us that Noah was a righteous man. Although there’s a connection to the morality of Noah’s life, the primary focus of this righteousness is on the grace of Noah’s God. Looking ahead to Hebrews 11:7, we learn that the righteousness of Noah was not something he obtained by his efforts or works, but rather, it was an inheritance he received from God by faith.
He was a Blameless Man
Standing in stark contrast to the wickedness of the world, Noah was marked by godliness. Not to be confused with sinless perfectionism, this was the characteristic pattern of Noah’s life. At some point along the way, God transformed Noah by His grace, and his life testified to that reality.
He walked with God
Like Enoch, Noah walked with God. However, instead of “taking him”, God was going to save him, use him to save his family, and preserve the lineage of Christ. All of this was an act of God’s grace.
Therefore, when we consider the life of Noah, we need to make sure we see it rightly. The biblical account is more of a statement about God’s grace than it is a description of Noah’s goodness. The hero of Genesis 6 is not Noah. It’s God! May we see Him as the gracious hero that He is and give to Him the adoration He so richly deserves.
As you are probably aware we have started utilizing the new “Garage” for our youth. I want to express my sincere appreciation to several people. I am not going to try to list all the individuals because I would most certainly forget someone; however, I want to express a special thanks to Clay Cochran with electrical work and Seth Johnson with IT services for the many hours they provided and want to thank their families for their sacrifice as well.
I want to thank the staff and shepherds for their vision, support and understanding for the many delays during the process, ranging from normal material delivery delays to unanticipated delays caused by illnesses (mostly Covid related), etc. I am grateful to the support of the Trustee Committee, both 2021 and 2022 committees. Their input and assistance were invaluable throughout the process. Many thanks to all the volunteers that provided their time and resources for the project that helped enable us to build the facility cost efficiently. I also appreciate the donations of materials and price breaks by several individuals and/or companies. 1 Peter 4:10 states: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I am also appreciative to the congregation for your support and faithful giving during the building process. God provided the finances for the project without having to have a special fund-raising program. In my 55 years as a member of FBCK this is the first major building project that we have been able to do that. Of course, God had his hand in the process throughout. We had excellent vendors and contractors and I don’t think we just stumbled onto them; God led us to the right people and businesses. We look forward to the many lives that will be changed with the Garage ministry in the future.
In His Service,
Raymond Lucas, Chair Trustees
In Matthew 28:16-20, we find the passage commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” There, the resurrected Jesus meets with His disciples one final time, before He ascends into heaven, declaring to them that He has all authority over heaven and earth. Flowing from that absolute authority, Jesus then gives His disciples the most important assignment they’ve ever received: “Go and make disciples.”
How were they to carry out this mission? By going out of their comfort zones to proclaim the gospel to the lost, baptizing them in the name of the triune God, and teaching them to obey King Jesus. Looking back over 2,000 years of church history, I think we’d all say that, by God’s grace, they were pretty successful.
But, here’s the catch: the mission is incomplete. You see, the Great Commission was never intended for just the original 11 disciples. Instead, Jesus was entrusting this mission to the Church. He was commanding all believers, in every era, to obey His command to make disciples.
Therefore, the question is this: who are you discipling? Who are you pouring into on a weekly basis? Who are you seeking to share the gospel with? And, who are you helping to learn to trust and follow Jesus? In obedience to King Jesus, it’s time to take the mission seriously. Go and make disciples.
As we walk our way through the pages of Scripture, we realize that throughout redemptive history, God has always provided humanity with a remnant of His grace. In the specific context of Genesis 5, it’s a remnant that preserves the lineage of Christ. In other words, even when humanity rebels against God, and seemingly eliminates the possibility that anything good can come from that rebellion, God is exceedingly gracious to show that His sovereign plan to exalt His glorious grace will not be stopped.
Not only was this true with the earliest generations of human history, but it’s true in our generation as well. Although we can’t always see it, even when we are experiencing sickness, disease, some painful circumstance, or even the death of a loved one, we must always remember that God’s grace transcends it all. God is always sovereignly working. And, how is He working? He’s working according to the eternal council of His will (Eph. 1:11).
Whether sins or circumstances, the grace of God is supreme. Therefore, while our failures are many, may we remember that God’s grace is more. Though we strive to bring Him glory with our lives, in those moments when we fall short, let’s remember that His grace is always sufficient.
Hey church family, if you remember from our sermon on Sunday, we discussed that we live in a very envious culture. It’s so easy to see what feels like every part of others’ lives on social media. But remember, you only see the highlights, not the bloopers. For every picture of a new home that’s posted, there’s a failure at work that you don’t see. For every fun, sweet relationship picture posted, there’s an argument that isn’t heard. For every picture of a kid succeeding in sports or academic, there’s a fight/argument that isn’t broadcasted. For every win, there’s a loss. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your life is so much worse than others just because you are living through your struggles while looking at their victories.
Now we have talked about all of the issues with envy, but how do you combat it? How do you not let your life be ruled by it? One of the best ways to do this is to express gratitude to God. I have a list of things I am thankful for on my phone. I made it a few weeks ago, and I only had a few things on it. However, I revisited it the other day and updated it, and that was one of the most awesome things I could have done. I personally struggle with envy and comparison, and the antidote to that is contentment/gratitude. God’s Word tells us that Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). In a world that struggles so badly with wanting what others have, let’s be different and be grateful for all that God has given us. Most importantly, if we know Jesus, let’s be thankful that God has taken care of the biggest problem we could ever face. Love you all!
As we consider the biblical account of Cain and Abel, it’s worth noting that there have been various interpretations given over the years for why God rejected the sacrifice of Cain. Was it the offering, itself? Was it his heart attitude? Did he refuse to bring the first and best of the fruit from his field? Or, was it some combination of these?
Although speculation abounds, what we do know is this: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4). In other words, the fundamental difference between the sacrifices of Cain and Abel is that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith while Cain did not. And, it was by this very faith that Abel was considered righteous in God’s sight.
This is the fundamental message of Christianity. This is how Abraham was considered righteous (Gen. 15:6), and it’s the only way that genuine believers are saved, today. The Apostle Paul writes: “For by grace you have been saved through
faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8). Therefore, it isn’t based upon how good we are (or how good we think we are); it isn’t based upon how many acts of service we do; it isn’t even based upon our church attendance. To be justified in God’s sight, and considered righteous, is only by faith.
According to His grace, we must believe that God sent His Son into the world to live a perfect life that we could not live, to die the death that we deserved to die because of our sins, and to conquer death in our place through the resurrection. Let me encourage you to take the time to evaluate your profession of faith before the Lord, today. Are you trusting in a righteousness of your own? If so, repent of your righteousness, and receive the righteousness of Christ that only comes by faith.
As we consider God’s indictment of the serpent and His first image-bearers in Genesis, chapter 3, we can see a scarlet thread that weaves God’s words together like a tapestry of redemption. Each aspect of the fabric points us to the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ. And, in looking to Christ, we see the work that was accomplished to secure our salvation.
Beginning with the serpent, we find the promise of the Seed of the woman who would come to crush the serpent’s head. This male seed would not escape without experiencing injury, as His heel would be bruised. We discover the fulfillment of this “first gospel” promise at the cross, as Christ would experience suffering, but would also reign as the victor in His resurrection from the dead.
We then turn to the indictment upon the woman and the man. For Eve, she would experience pain in childbirth and a desire to control her husband. Looking ahead, this very pain would be experienced by Mary, as the Savior would be born to a virgin. Then, through the death of this baby boy, He would transform the heart of His Bride, the Church, to submit to Him as the Head.
To Adam, God promised that his work would be filled with sweat and the ground would resist him with its thorns. Fast forwarding, the second Adam sweat great drops of blood, as He fought to provide for us, and He would also accomplish His work upon the cross while wearing a crown of thorns.
Finally, before sending Adam and Eve out of the garden, God killed an animal. He shed the blood of an innocent animal to cover their sins. This gracious work of God points us to the sacrificial death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, as we read God’s Word, let’s not fail to see redemption’s scarlet thread!
One of the most misused verses in all of Scripture is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” You see it posted on social media, written on the bodies of athletes, and quoted in just about every context you can imagine. However, Paul’s point in writing Philippians 4:13 didn’t have anything to do with succeeding in a new job or making a three-point shot. Instead, it was all about contentment.
For context, Philippians 4:11-13 says this:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
So, Paul’s Spirit-inspired words are all about being content in every circumstance. Even when we don’t have much, we can be content that our sovereign Lord is caring for us according to his wise and good will. When we don’t have the abundance that others may have, we can be content, because we trust God. At the same time, when we have more than what we need, we can depend upon Christ’s strength to keep us humble and reliant upon him. Why? Because we know we don’t deserve it. So, whether we have a lot or a little, let us be content in Christ. Let us be satisfied in our Savior.
In Revelation 3:14, Jesus introduced himself to the church in Laodicea as “the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Ruler/Beginning of God’s Creation.” This is the one whose coming we anticipate. Remember Jesus’ words from Luke 12:35–38, which are similar to Revelation 3:20:
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!” (ESV)
A good lamp in this time would have been mostly enclosed with a port for oil refilling and a stabilized wick. Older lamps were not always enclosed, allowing for the oil to slosh about, the wick to be free-floating, and susceptible to spilling. The command of Jesus in Luke 12 is to “keep your lamps burning.” It is not simply to have a lamp, oil, and wicks in supply. The command is to keep the lamp lit. Not only should extra oil, extra wicks, and spare pots be ready on hand, but a lamp should always be lit.
The reason for this is that the Master may come in the second or third watch. The Romans had a four-watch system, and the Jews had a three-watch system. Occasionally, there may have been some attempts to merge the two systems. However, here, in Luke 12, it seems that Jesus used the three-watch system, where the second watch lasted from 10–2 am and the third watch from 2 am to 6 am. At whatever time the Master comes to the door and knocks, his people are called to be ready to open the door.
As you consider your own performance review from the study of Revelation 2–3, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to increase my readiness for the Lord’s return?” How is your personal church membership and commitment? How is your overall community church life scoring on the performance review compared to these seven churches? Keep your lamps burning for whom we are waiting—the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands (Rev. 2:1), the first and the last, who died and came to life (2:8), the one who has the sharp two-edged sword (2:12), the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze (2:18), the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars (Rev. 3:1), the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens (Rev. 3:7), and the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation (Rev. 3:14).
Rex J. Howe
“Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan—who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Revelation 3:9–10 NET).
These verses shift the focus from the present trial to the future reversal—when oppressed believers will be exalted to reign with Christ and unbelieving oppressors are humbled (Isaiah 45:14; 49:23; 60:14).
Returning to Revelation 3:9, we see a great reversal. This Jewish congregation in the synagogue at Philadelphia had become enemies of the Lord and his people of their rejection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In doing so and if they continued down such a path, they were forfeiting the promise given to them several times in Isaiah. The promises for Israel have always been “Yes” in Christ. In denying Christ, they were giving up the hope of Israel (cf. Acts 26:6–8). Instead, the Philadelphians Christians had become grafted into the hope of Israel; at their feet, the nations (including Messiah-rejecting Jews) will bow down.
How did these Philadelphians possess such a hope? Jesus said, “Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly.” The ESV translates this clause, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance.” The Philadelphians possessed a persevering faith, which is the kind of faith that overcomes to receive an inheritance in Christ. The verb “have kept” gives us the “roof top” view from Jesus’ perspective on the entirety of their faith journey. Overall, they have persisted or fulfilled obedience. They have kept Jesus’ word or admonition—a specific message—with reference to patient or steadfast endurance.
Therefore, Jesus made another promise to the Philadelphians. Jesus would keep them. It’s the same verb used earlier and makes for a wordplay—you have kept . . . I will keep. However, Jesus isn’t referring to his obedience, rather he is referring to his power to keep them unharmed, to preserve, to watch over, or to protect them from something. He will protect them “from the hour of testing.” This is not a general trial or test, rather it is the one “about to come on the whole world.” The term “world” (οἰκουμένη) is found fifteen times in the New Testament and can refer to the politically administrated territory of the Roman Empire or to the totality of the inhabited earth (every kingdom). I believe the latter meaning is intended here.
By the power of his resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus has the authority and power to keep you unharmed from that great and terrible Day of the Lord. He will also flip the script—his oppressed and persecuted people will one day find themselves at Jesus side, ruling and reigning with him. May we keep his word and hold on to our assurance and confidence in Jesus.
--Rex J. Howe
The one and only Son of God is calling his church to come out from the paths of compromise to follow Jesus. In Revelation 2, the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira faced temptations to compromise in the challenging setting of the Roman Empire. Jesus called the believers at Pergamum to repent of the teaching of Balaam, a doctrine that sought to undermine God’s blessing on his people by luring them into idolatry through syncretistic relationships. Jesus called the believers of Thyatira to repent of the teaching of Jezebel, which also led to idolatry marked by violence, greed, and sexual immorality. The Son of God calls us to persevere on the ancient highway toward the telos – the goal – of eternity with the Triune God. The teachings of Balaam and Jezebel are examples of “exit ramps to side roads” that distract churches from the horizon of the Trinitarian target.
On Sunday, we learned four traveling principles: (1) move on old pathways, (2) move on foot, (3) move without distraction, and (4) move with anticipation. However, what if we’ve just realized that we’re already on the side road of compromise and don’t know the way back onto God’s highway?! An additional principle is necessary for such a traveler. Therefore, the compromised traveler needs to (5) move with repentance. In Revelation 2–3, Jesus used the verb “to repent” eight times in his messages to the churches.
How does the compromised traveler move with repentance back onto God’s highway? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” First, Paul explains the need for a “godly grief.” The idea is a kind of grief in accordance with God. Since Jesus is he who “searches mind and heart,” we understand that this grief is not merely play-acting, but an internal Spirit-produced gift that leads the believer’s emotions. How might one generate such God-oriented grief? I believe the Spirit generates it by the word of God, so it can be experienced by reading and listening to God’s word, sitting under biblical preaching, and in other word-focused settings. Second, this godly grief from the Spirit works. It is effective; it produces. What does it produce? Third, it produces repentance, a turning from compromise-alley back to the highway of God, to the path of maturity in salvation. Fourth, this kind of repentance is “without regret.” The same term is used in Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable/without regret.” This Spirit-generated grief produces irrevocable repentance, which implies that the believer will experience a change that sanctifies him or her from that kind of compromise. God’s granting of the gift of repentance works; it is effective. It is life-giving, life-restoring. Fifth, the grief of the world produces death. It originates from the world, not from God. Worldly grief doesn’t produce a turning back to God. Since it does not work repentance, it allows the traveler to continue down the side road of compromise. The lost traveler finds death at the end of all these side roads of compromise.
By God’s grace, what if you suddenly realize that you are an internal threat of compromise at your local church? Move with repentance. It is the only way travelers can return to the highway of God that leads to salvation.
--Rex J. Howe
We learned that the loyal but loveless Ephesian church (Acts 18–20; Revelation 2:1–7) needed to retrieve love as the substance behind their loyalty. Jesus instructed them to remember the works they did at first (cf. Acts 18–20): (1) believing the word, (2) experiencing Christ through the Holy Spirit, (3) evangelism, (4) repentance, and (5) commitment to the local church.
The churches of Smyrna and Pergamum suffered under the intense and officially sanctioned persecution that they faced. They faced the realities of imprisonment and execution unless they denied Christ and confessed the genius of Caesar. Dr. Rex Butler of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Church History Department wrote in a 2016 article entitled “Swear by the genius of our lord the emperor”: False Worship and Persecution of Christians,”
Toward the end of the first century, Emperor Domitian sent out a decree that all in his empire should worship him as “God the Lord.” Residents of the empire were ordered to come to the public square, burn a pinch of incense, and speak the words Caesar kurios, “Caesar is lord.” This act of devotion seemed little enough in light of the emperor’s divine power and benevolence toward his subjects. And refusal could result in imprisonment, confiscation of property, banishment, and even death. Christians, however, did refuse. They confessed a higher allegiance: Iesous kurios, “Jesus is Lord,” recalling Paul’s admonition, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). In western Asia Minor, known today as Turkey, emperor worship was embraced, so Domitian’s edict was strictly enforced. In 17 AD, a powerful earthquake destroyed many of the cities in that area, including Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Smyrna. Because Emperor Tiberius paid for the reconstruction of these cities out of imperial funds, the citizens were grateful to the emperor and quite ready to worship anyone who occupied the imperial throne. And any resident who refused to worship the emperor was severely punished.
Jesus promised these churches lasting rewards in the new creation if they persevered in faith to the end. To get there, they’d have to resist the devil by fearing the Lord alone. Having examined Jesus’ “Performance Review” of these three churches, we learned that Jesus commended them all for their loyalty and faithfulness and that he corrected the Ephesians’ loveless loyalty and Pergamum’s compromised living. For those in Pergamum to resist the devil, they would have to repent of their compromised living because of which they had embraced idolatrous practices. Then, they would inherit the “full flowering that God has in mind for each of his children in Christ” (Fanning). How about you? Do you have a future-focused faithfulness that resists the devil’s pressure to compromise? The Scriptures are full of “future-focusing” texts that can strengthen your present faithfulness (e.g., Col. 3:1–4). In what ways do you feel pressured to compromise (1) sound doctrine, (2) worship, (3) the spiritual life, (4) sexuality, and/or (5) fellowship in the local church? Resist the devil by fearing the Lord for lasting reward (cf. 1 Peter 5:6–11).
-- Rex J. Howe
Sometime during the second century (after the writings of the New Testament), Ignatius of Antioch wrote a letter to the Ephesians. In chapter nine, he wrote,
But I have learned that certain people from elsewhere have passed your way with evil doctrine, but you did not allow them to sow it among you. You covered up your ears in order to avoid receiving the things being sown by them, because you are stones of a temple, prepared beforehand for the building of God the Father, hoisted up to the heights by the crane of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, using as a rope the Holy Spirit; your faith is what lifts you up, and love is the way that leads up to God.
We learn from Ignatius that Paul’s warning to the Ephesians elders about “wolves” (Acts 20:29–31), Paul’s call to “stand firm” against spiritual forces of darkness (Eph. 6:10–18), and Jesus’ commendation to the Ephesians for their “enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake” (Rev. 2:3) continued to have relevance in his day for the Ephesian church.
The Ephesians continued to persevere in truth during the second century, but what of Jesus’ call to remember, repent, and retrieve the love and works they had at first? Ignatius exhorted in chapter ten,
Pray continually for the rest of humankind as well, that they may find God, for there is in them hope for repentance. Therefore, allow them to be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. In response to their anger, be gentle; in response to their boasts, be humble; in
response to their slander, offer prayers; in response to their errors, be steadfast in the faith; in response to their cruelty, be civilized; do not be eager to imitate them.
Sarah F. Porter commenting on background material for Ephesus wrote, “For the first few centuries after the worship of Christ took root in Ephesus, some Ephesians considered a conflict between Christ and Artemis foundational to their story.” The western American “culture wars,” as we call them, are part of American Christianity’s story. They require patient endurance to faithfully bear the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian-ish niceness doesn’t endure in a way that adapts in culture to confront the culture’s sins. However, it is possible that a hollow obsession with “winning the war” may crowd out love for God and others. The substance of biblical love must reinforce our loyalty to Christ. Dr. Buist Fanning in his new commentary on Revelation writes, “No matter how mature and battle tested we may become in Christian living, Jesus calls us never to leave behind the vitality and freshness of our love for God and others” (123). As you persevere in a hostile culture, don’t forget to remember, repent, and retrieve the love you received from God at the beginning, so that you may love God and become “gentle … humble … prayerful … steadfast in faith … civilized” in the spiritual conflicts of our time.
For the Ephesians (cf. Acts 18–20), (1) believing the word, (2) experiencing Christ through the Holy Spirit, (3) evangelism, (4) repentance, and (5) commitment to the local church were those first works that flowed from the freshness of their former love. As you retrieve the love you had for God at the beginning, what works of love might you recover?
--Rex J. Howe
As we consider the recent Supreme Court ruling, effectively overturning Roe vs. Wade, it’s important that we respond in wise and biblical ways. There are four I’d like to suggest: First, our response to this Supreme Court ruling should be one of praise. We should be praising the Lord that, after almost 50 years, and after more than 64 million babies have been murdered in the womb in America, since Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court has finally declared that killing unborn children is not a constitutional right. Although it seems completely absurd to celebrate the fact that some people will no longer be allowed to murder babies in our country, we should rightfully be praising God for being gracious to our nation in this way.
Secondly, we should respond with prayer. As we’ve seen with the way some people have responded to the decision, we need to be praying now more than ever before. We should be praying that individual states, which haven’t done so already, would move to condemn abortion. We should be praying for God’s protection upon crisis pregnancy care centers, upon churches, and upon everyone who seeks to uphold the right to life. And we should be praying for the unborn; that through this decision, God would preserve their lives.
Third, we should respond with prudence. This begins with remembering that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). Those who are blind to the wickedness of abortion are not enemies to be defeated, but souls to be saved. So, we must be wise, compassionate, and gracious with our words. It is a good thing to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision, but we must do so with humility and gentleness.
Fourth and finally, we should respond to this decision with a proper perspective. We’re grateful that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade, but we’re not satisfied. There are states in our nation where it is still legal to murder your baby in the womb. And we know that there will still be women who will travel from states where abortion is illegal to states where it is legal, to
kill their babies.
Therefore, with that proper perspective in mind, we need to be stepping up as the church to help women like that to know that there is hope. It’s not enough for us to simply talk about what is evil. We also need to be investing our time, energy, and resources into doing what is right. My prayer is that this is how we will respond as individual believers and as a church.
We can expect it like clockwork. Every June, companies in America change the colors of their logo to coordinate with the rainbow. In an attempt to pander to a growing minority of the population, these companies celebrate
unbiblical and immoral lifestyles using a symbol that God established as a sign of His gracious and merciful promise. And like the perversion of that sign, instead of exalting the virtue of humility, our culture promotes that immorality with pride.
What was once unthinkable just a generation ago is now becoming, not just normalized in our culture, but demanding of celebration. And, of course, every June, we as Christians are rightfully angered and bothered by the pattern we see. From a human perspective, what we are experiencing in our culture is a rejection of God’s truth and God’s design, resulting in the spiraling degradation of society. We are witnessing the moral fabric of our nation ripping at the seams. But from a spiritual perspective, the reason for that is because God is judging our nation. He is removing His gracious, sustaining power and handing our culture over to its own sinful desires, resulting in absolute depravity and complete absurdity; to the point that our society is now debating the most fundamental aspects of who we are as human beings like, “what is the definition of a woman?”
So, make no mistake. The breakdown of the family is not a coincidence. It is the strategic plan of the enemy to attack our churches and our society at the very foundation. And that foundation is the institution of marriage and the family. So in response to the attacks we see happening on the individual, marriage, sexuality, and the family, how should we respond?
Well, first and foremost, we must turn to the Word of God and submit our lives to God’s will. It begins in our own hearts, in our own lives, and in our own homes. We can’t expect to change the white house until we strengthen the church house. And we can’t strengthen the church house until we deal with our own house. But then, once we have firmly solidified that we have actually submitted to Christ’s Lordship in this area, then we must begin to faithfully model it for the world to see. And in that way, God-ordained families become a living apologetic for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and ultimately for the glory of God’s
As we walked through Colossians 1:15-20 this week, I pray that you walked away in awe of who Jesus is. He is the Creator of everything, the Sustainer of everything, and the Reconciler of everything. The whole goal of the passage, as written by Paul, was to show that Jesus is supreme to everything and everyone.
One of the main points that I wanted to make is that people are changed by sight. What I meant by that was people are changed whenever they see Jesus for who He is, and that only comes by God giving them a revelation. When we talk about spiritual blindness in the world, we are saying that people are absolutely incapable of coming to Jesus on their own power. God has to change their hearts and draw them to Himself. Jesus even said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me except the Father who sent me draws him.”
So, a few things about this: One: this should make us incredibly grateful to God. The fact that we had no control over whether we could be saved or not should build in us a heart of gratitude that He was kind enough to reach down and save us. Two: it should relax us whenever we are doing ministry and trying to reach people.
It should relax us that God is the One that opens eyes and changes hearts because it takes absolutely all the pressure off of us. The only responsibility that we have is to carry the message of God to those around us. I used to be heavily involved in Cru when I was a student at Marshall, and their definition of successful evangelism (sharing Christ) is: “taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God.” The pressure is off, believer. Go and carry God’s message to any who will listen.
As we look back upon our sermon series on the Trinity, my hope is that, along the way, your knowledge of this Triune God has been expanded, your gratitude toward God has been cultivated, and your affections for God have increased. After all, the strength of our faith is directly connected to the nature of the God we profess to believe in. And, the God revealed in Scripture is infinitely majestic.
In our final sermon from the series, we focused in on the roles of the Father, Son, and Spirit in the consummation and ultimate redemption of all things. The 19th century theologian and author, Herman Bavinck, summarized it this way: “God the Father has reconciled His created but fallen world through the death of His Son, and renews it into a Kingdom of God by His Spirit.” In other words, we learned that from Genesis to Revelation, the message of the Bible is, first and foremost, about the Triune God. It is this one, grand story about the Trinitarian God who authored it all in eternity past, who accomplishes it all in the time and space of the present, and who will bring it all to completion, for His own glory, in the future.
Scripture paints this picture for us as it describes the Father’s sovereign decrees and determinations, the Son’s righteous rule and reign, and the Spirit’s holy power and presence. And, although some of the doctrines of Scripture can be weighty and perhaps intimidating to some, the final words of Scripture bring us back to the simple invitation of the gospel: “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price…The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Rev. 22:17, 21).
The Word of God presents us with a beautifully profound picture of the three persons of the trinity working together in complete harmony, as one God, accomplishing the work of our salvation. Not only do we see the grand redemptive plan of God, but we also the individual persons working in their respective roles.
First, we see the Father, in places like Ephesians 1, planning our salvation from before the foundation of the world. He predestines and decrees our salvation from eternity past. No one has to persuade God to do this, and it isn’t based upon anything in us. It’s all about the glory of His sovereign grace.
Next, we see the Son coming to the earth. He is sent by the Father to accomplish the work of our redemption through His propitiation on the cross. And that’s exactly what He did. On the cross, Jesus Christ perfectly satisfied God’s righteous wrath in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.
And finally, the Spirit has come to apply this redemptive work of Christ for God’s elect. Therefore, within time and space, the Spirit comes at the appointed time and regenerates the people of God and blesses them with the gift of faith. And Jesus teaches us, in John 3, that this work of the Spirit cannot be predicted, manipulated, or fabricated. God sovereignly accomplishes His will for His glory.
Thus, we see that our salvation is from God, and through God, and for God. And what assurance is found in that reality. The same God who planned our salvation is the God who obtained our salvation; is the God who applies our salvation, and is the God who secures our salvation. My friends, I hope you can see that our salvation, which begins in this life and stretches on for eternity, is completely and totally bound up within the doctrine of the trinity.
There are times in life when we feel confused, disappointed, and so unsure about what God is doing that we don’t even know what to pray. When those seasons of life occur, we can be tempted to turn to the things of the world; but God calls us to turn to His Word. Throughout Scripture, we find a number of divinely inspired prayers that we can pray back to God. When we do, the Lord begins to open the eyes of our heart to the glories of His grace, the riches of His wisdom, and the vastness of His power. Here are three divinely inspired ways to pray:
- Pray for God to Prepare Your Heart
- Hebrews 4:16 “Let us draw near…that we may receive mercy…”
- Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things…”
- Pray that God would Humble Your Heart
- Psalm 24:1 “The earth is Yahweh’s…”
- Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”
- Pray for God to Increase Faith in Your Heart
- Ephesians 1:17 “That…the Father of glory may give you…wisdom…”
- Ephesians 3:17 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;”
We’re very excited to introduce you to our candidate for the position of Campus & Collegiate Minister, Jeff Kliewer. Jeff is married to his lovely wife, Megan, and they have three children: Sully, Malcom, and Eisley. Jeff is a graduate of Baptist Bible College where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Bible and graduate of Cedarville University where he received his Master’s degree in Christian Ministry.
Jeff’s passion is to teach God’s Word and make disciples who engage in loving service. He desires to provide for the spiritual needs for those in his care so that they are equipped to serve the Lord faithfully and share the gospel in their circles of life. Jeff has been serving for the past 8 years at Scioto Hills Christian Camp in South Webster, Ohio, as the Program Director and Media Coordinator. This experience, along with his character, calling, and education is what we believe makes Jeff such a great addition to our ministry staff and to the role of Campus & Collegiate Minister.
The Kliewer family will be with us at our Legacy campus on Saturday, May 14th at 4 PM, where everyone will have a chance to meet them and get to know them better. Then, the next day, on Sunday, May 15th, Jeff will be preaching in view of a call at all three church services. Following each service, there will be a special business meeting to vote to affirm Jeff to the role.
We’re very excited to introduce you to our candidate for the position of Campus & Collegiate Minister, Jeff Kliewer. Jeff is married to his lovely wife, Megan, and they have three children: Sullivan, Malcom, and Eisley. Jeff is a graduate of Baptist Bible College where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Bible. He will also be graduating on May 6th from Cedarville University with a Master’s degree in Christian Ministry. Jeff’s passion is to teach God’s Word and make disciples who engage in loving service. He desires to provide for the spiritual needs for those in his care so that they are equipped to serve the Lord faithfully and share the gospel in their circles of life. Jeff has been serving for the past 8 years at Scioto Hills Christian Camp in South Webster, Ohio, as the Program Director and Media Coordinator. This experience, along with his character, calling, and education is what we believe makes Jeff such a great addition to our ministry staff and the role of Campus & Collegiate Minister.
The Kliewer family will be with us at our Legacy campus on Saturday, May 14th at 4 PM, where everyone will have a chance to meet them and get to know them better. Then, the next day, on Sunday, May 15th, Jeff will be preaching in view of a call at all three church services. Following each service, there will be a special business meeting to vote to affirm Jeff to the role.
When we think about the Great Commission, we often think of it primarily in terms of the call to “Go”. Go and make disciples. What’s important for us to understand, however, is that there is actually another dimension to the Great Commission that is often overlooked. And it’s an aspect that would serve us well to take note of and apply in our own lives.
We see it in Luke 24, beginning in verse 45. It says there:
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
So notice that before the command was given for the disciples to “Go”, there was this command to “Stay”. It’s true that they were going to be called to proclaim the message of God’s forgiveness and salvation to the nations, beginning in Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But Jesus was very specific in telling them that they needed to wait to begin that gospel ministry until they were “clothed with power on high”.
And what were they to wait for? They were called to wait on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to them on the Day of Pentecost. And although for us, while the Holy Spirit has already been given, and indwells every true believer, we need to be sure that we are expressing our dependence upon God’s Spirit and His resurrection power, if we are going to accomplish anything of eternal value for God’s Kingdom.
So before you leave each day for work; before you head out the door for school; before you start your daily tasks, stay. Stay, spend some time with the Lord through His Word, and pray.
Among the many themes found in Scripture, one that is repeatedly seen is a garden. In fact, gardens are found from the beginning to the end of God’s plan of redemption. Therefore, we can rightly say that God is not only the Owner of the vineyard but that He is also the Divine Gardner (John 15).
Starting at the very beginning, we find God creating a garden called Eden. We can accurately call this the garden of creation (Gen. 2). In this garden, God created the first man and woman. In this garden, He delivered His mandate and subsequent commands. And, in this garden, the Fall of humanity and the curse of the world was enacted. A promise was found in this garden of creation that a man would one day come to crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15).
Fast forwarding through time and space, we find the Lord Jesus Christ. The God man entered the world and, towards the end of his life, entered the garden of temptation (Matthew 26:36-46). While in this garden, the second Adam, Jesus, did what the first Adam failed to do. He fought for, defended, and protected his bride. And, he accepted the divine cup of God’s wrath in the place of his people.
Finally, at the very end of God’s Word, we discover the garden of redemption (Rev. 21-22). How remarkable it is that humanity began in a garden, and the Lord is bringing us back to a garden. Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God purchases His people back, brings us into physical fellowship with Him, eradicates the curse, and promises that we will be with Him forever!
A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement or dichotomy that is actually true. In so many ways, the Christian life is a paradox; the Kingdom of Christ as an antonym to our own flesh and the kingdoms of this world. As Christ followers, we’re called to:
-Fix our eyes on things which are unseen (2 Cor. 4:18).
-Conquer by submitting (Jam. 4:7).
-Lead by serving (Matt. 20:26).
-Become great by becoming small (Phil 2:4-6)).
-Be first by becoming last (Matt. 20:16).
-Be exalted by being humble (Jam. 4:10).
-Become wise by becoming fools for Christ’s sake (1 Cor. 4:10).
-Find freedom by becoming slaves (1 Pet. 2:16)
-Gain strength by acknowledging our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
-And to live by dying to self (Matt. 16:24-25).
And all of this takes place in the already but the not yet. This is why the gospel, and all that it encompasses, is foolishness to the world, yet is also the wisdom and power of God to those who are being saved (1 Cor. 1:18).
Believer, seek first the Kingdom of Christ and his righteousness, and let God handle the results (Matt. 6:33).
Have you ever considered the absolute dependence we have on sleep? We often don’t think twice about it, because it’s part of our everyday routine. But, sleep is one of the most empirical evidences of our human finitude and fragility. Approximately one third of our lives is spent sleeping. It’s a daily reminder that God has designed us to be dependent on Him.
But, what about God? Does God sleep? On face value, Genesis 2:1-3, may seem to appear that way. The Bible tells us that after God completed the work of creating the cosmos, He rested. However, in the original language, the word translated “rest” simply means “to cease”. So, it isn’t that God became exhausted or somehow needed to be rejuvenated after creating the universe. After all, God is omnipotent, which means that He is all powerful and that every exertion of His power is accomplished effortlessly. Therefore, while we are dependent upon God, God is dependent upon no one.
Psalm 121:1-4 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” In other words, even when we are sleeping, God is still sovereignly ruling, reigning, and sustaining all things.
And yet, even greater than physical sleep is the spiritual reality sleep points us to. Like physical sleep, which is the closing of our eyes and the laying down of our bodies at night, trusting in the sovereignty of God, completely surrendering ourselves to vulnerability and the need to be restored, salvation is restoration for our soul. This is the heart of the gospel. Instead of working to somehow earn God’s favor, the gospel calls us to turn from our best efforts and to simply cast ourselves upon the perfect person and perfect work of Jesus Christ. He is our sleepless sovereign. May we find our rest in Him.
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Appalachian Ministry Institute conference held at Tri-State Bible College. It was a joy to gather together with pastors and church leaders from all over the Tri-State to consider ministry in our unique Appalachian context.
Among the teachers and speakers at the conference, one was my friend and fellow pastor, Brad Brandt. Brad is the Lead Pastor of Wheelersburg Baptist Church in Wheelersburg, OH. He’s also a certified biblical counselor and fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.
One of the many things I love about Pastor Brad is his steadfast confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture. That is to say that the Bible is the truth of God, and it provides us with everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). During his break-out session, Brad provided three reasons why the Bible is sufficient for us, from Hebrews 4:12-13, and I wanted to pass them on to all of you:
Scripture is sufficient, because it’s God’s Word.
Scripture is sufficient, because it’s a good word.
Scripture is sufficient, because it’s the final word.
May we never cease to remember that the Word of God is living and has the power to penetrate to the deepest, darkest crevices of our heart. It is through the Word, and the Word alone, that we truly see God, understand how God sees us, and see how we can be ready to meet Him.
Hey church family, it was so good to see you on Sunday. If you weren’t there, we discussed the seventh day of creation, where God rested. God didn’t rest because He was tired, but He rested to set a pattern for us, for humanity. Simply put, we need a day of rest to allow us to recharge, relax, and reflect on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Keep in mind, in Exodus 20, when God is giving the Ten Commandments through Moses, that it’s not just a suggestion for us to rest, but He commands us to (hence the title, Ten Commandments). Not only is it important for us to get that one day of rest per week, but it’s also important for us to get quality sleep every night. I quoted a guy named John Delony in my sermon, and I’m gonna quote him again: “Sleep as much as you can without getting fired or divorced.”
I summarized my message by pointing to the fact that God gives all these details about rest to paint us a picture of our ultimate rest found in Jesus. A pastor once pointed out that even though it is meant to help you unplug from life, you can actually come back tired from a vacation, and I agree.
Vacations, naps, and cups of coffee may help us forget about how we feel for a little bit, but they aren’t the ultimate things that fill our souls up. What fills our souls up is the love of God in Christ Jesus, knowing that He will give us strength to carry on; all we need to do is ask Him. The never-ending toil of life is what pushes us toward Jesus, what helps us realize that we are in desperate need of Him. Like the song says, “Lord I need You, oh I need You, every hour, I need You.” Chew on those lyrics today, and remember them whenever you’re facing something that wears you out. Jesus says you can come to Him, and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
As we think about the creation mandate found in Genesis 1:28-31, we find God calling us to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill earth, but also to subdue it and to have dominion. Fast forwarding to the New Testament, in Matthew 28:16-20, we discover Jesus giving the Church a very similar command. He’s called us to go into all the world, making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and teaching them to obey all of His commands. While we typically refer to this as the Great Commission, it’s also the new creation mandate.
This mandate is the design and pattern for making disciples, which has been given to us by God Himself. Just like in the original creation mandate, the Lord is the Creator, and He is the Author. And, as His image-bearers, we have been called to go; to go into all the world, from our neighborhoods to the nations, and to engage in the ministry of multiplication. He’s called us to go and share the good news of the gospel, through which God is saving and redeeming a people, bringing all of creation into submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and filling the world with His glory.
So, how do we practically fulfill this mandate? Well, for some, it may mean becoming a missionary and traveling to another country. For the rest of us, though, it’s simply engaging more intentionally with the people in our own sphere of influence; at school if you’re a student, or at work if you’re an adult, for example. It’s not an accident that God has planted you where you are. By His sovereignty, and according to His wise providence, God has you where you are for a reason. Therefore, He is calling you to share the gospel with your friends, your family members, your co-workers, and your neighbors, etc.
Wherever God has us, we must settle it in our minds that it’s not enough to be content with waiting on people to come to us, or with hoping that they will come to church to hear the gospel. That was never part of God’s original design. The new creation mandate is not about waiting on unbelievers to come to us. It’s about us going to them and sharing the Good News of the gospel while living it out before them.
With the heavens and the earth formed and filled, Scripture presents us with a picture of the Triune God articulating His divine council on Day 6, saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26). Through that personal, intimate divine declaration, there is found an introduction to the crowing crescendo of God’s creation. Humanity would be created by God to bear the image of its Creator.
Although much can be said about the full significance of what it means to be image-bearers of God, there are three primary implications that flow from Genesis 1:27:
1. Human beings have value. According to God’s Word, it is because we have been created in God’s image that all human beings have dignity, worth and value. All human life is precious from the womb to the tomb, because we are image-bearers of God. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, how much money is in your bank account, where you live, how old you are, what your physical or mental capabilities are, or even what you believe. Every human being has value, because we have been created in the image of an infinitely valuable God.
2. Human gender is a gift from God. Human gender is not an evolutionary byproduct, an accident of nature, a biological phenomenon, or a social construct. But rather, human gender is a creation and gift from God. God’s Word teaches us that He has created human beings with one of two possible genders: either you are created to be a male, or you are created to be a female. Within His sovereign wisdom and goodness, He has designed you to be the gender that you were born with, created in His image, that you might bring Him glory and find your ultimate identity, value, worth, dignity, purpose, joy, and satisfaction in Him.
3. We need the perfect Image-Bearer: Although we failed to rightly reflect God’s image, God entered the very humanity He created; He took on the male body of a human being, was born into the world, lived a perfect life of righteousness, and then sacrificed that life upon the cross. By trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of the perfect Image-Bearer, Scripture says that we will be increasingly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
Author and preacher, Paul Washer, once gave an analogy, saying:
“Here stands God on the day of creation. He looks at the stars and He says, “All you stars move yourself to this place and start in this order and move in a circle and move exactly as I tell you, until I give you another word. Planets, pick yourself up and whirl, make this formation at my command, until I give you another word. He looks at mountains and says “Be lifted up”, and they obey Him. He tells valleys “Be cast down”, and they obey Him. He looks at the sea and says “You will come this far”, and the sea obeys. Then, He looks at you and says “Come” and you go “No!” Does that bother anyone?”
My friends, as brother Paul goes on to say:
“You cannot see the beauty of the stars in the midday sky because the light of the sun eclipses them. However, after the sun sets and the sky becomes black as pitch, you see the stars in the full force of their splendor. So it is with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can only see its true beauty against the backdrop of our sin. The darker man appears, the brighter the gospel shines.”
So, let me ask you, can you see the beauty of the gospel? Can you see the splendor of salvation? Do you see the pitch-black dark backdrop of your sin, and can you see the gospel shining forth in contrast? If so, then I want to compel you to turn from that darkness and to seek the light. Run to Christ. Like the moon reflects the sun, God has created us, as His image-bearers, and redeemed us, to reflect the glory of His Son.
As we walk our way through the creation week in Genesis, we continue seeing usage of the term “day”. Along the way, we’ve noted that that term “Day” is actually a name; a name that was given by God, Himself. And He gave that name to the light (Gen. 1:5). But how do we define a day? That seems like a rather basic question on face value, but it’s an important one, nonetheless. Here’s Scripture answers that question:
- 1. From the perspective of authority, since He is the Creator, God, and God alone, has the right and ability to define what a day is. And He’s done that for us by giving Day its name, but also by repeatedly defining it as an evening and a morning (Gen. 1:5)
- 2. Secondly, it’s worth noting, from a grammatical perspective, that every other time we see the Hebrew word for day, which is “Yom”, accompanied by evening or morning, or modified by a number, it always refers to a literal, 24-hour period.
- 3. Third, from a practical standpoint, as God specifically tells us in verse 14, part of His purpose for creating the sun, moon, and stars, was so that humanity could keep track of time. He says that it’s “…for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,” So, these are literal seasons, literal days, and literal years
- 4. And, finally, from a typological perspective, we see God utilize this definition of a day, and the creation week, itself, as a pattern, to instruct the Israelites on what their work week should look like (Ex. 20:8-11). Should they work for thousands or millions of years before they rest? Of course not. A day means a day.
So, my friends, regardless of what secular science tries to tell us, upon the authority of God’s Word, from the perspective of God’s own definition, Hebrew grammar, human practicality, and the divine pattern of creation, itself, the days of the creation week were 6, literal, 24-hour periods.
If we claim to be the people of God, it should go without saying that we must also be a people of the Bible. Although there are certainly some professing Christians who would reject that premise, most would unhesitantly agree. After all, the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. However, there’s more to being “a people of the Book” than a mere acknowledgment. As J.I. Packer once said:
“It will not be enough to fight and win the battle for biblical inspiration and infallibility if we are then going to lose the battle for understanding the Bible and learning to live under its authority. We must be clear therefore on the rules of biblical interpretation and with that work constantly to get the blinders off our spiritual eyes so that breadth and depth of practical insight may be ours at all points.”
To put it simply, “What does this verse mean to you?” is no substitute for “Thus saith the Lord”. As Christians, it’s vitally important that we understand how to rightly interpret Scripture. The approach we take to interpreting Scripture is called our hermeneutic. So, as a helpful guide, here are five basic steps toward interpreting the Bible rightly:
- 1. Historical Context: It’s been said that a text without a context is a pretext. This first step involves putting ourselves in the shoes of the original audience of the biblical text. In this step, we’re seeking to understand more about the human author, his location, his audience, his time period, and his purpose for writing.
- 2. Revelatory Context: Next, we want to identify where this particular text is found within the progressive revelation of Scripture. Is it Old Testament or New Testament? How might the biblical text be impacted by the point in which it is found in redemptive history?
- 3. Literary Context: Often, this can be determined by simply reading the biblical text repeatedly. Take note of repetitive words or phrases. What is the genre of the book? In short, our goal is to answer the question, “Why was this book written?”
- 4. Structural Context: This step goes further than just catching the overall point of the book. Here, we want to be able to outline the flow of thought and the original meaning of words and phrases. Commentaries and Lexicons can be very helpful.
- 5. Immediate Context: In this final introductory step, we want to read the passage that comes directly before our text and the passage that comes directly after our text. Knowing how the author got to that point and where the author is heading can provide helpful insights into what the author is actually saying.
“Who can tell me where I came from?” The little boy would ask.
His question was a good one, Yet he faced a trying task.
Each man had different answers, As he was soon to learn.
This brought him great confusion, And it caused a deep concern.
He first went to his schoolmates, And they spoke with one another.
“I know,” said the brightest one, “You came from your mother.”
Now this had satisfied him, Yet only for a time.
For as he grew, year by year, His thoughts began to climb.
He then looked all around him, At all that he could see.
And his mind began to wonder, How it all had come to be.
He thought about the universe, The span of outer space,
And every star and planet, That exists in every place.
He thought about the rounded Earth, Its tilt and its rotation,
And all the seasons that occur In yearly circulation.
He thought about the darkness, And he thought about the light.
He thought about the sun and moon, That rule the day and night.
He thought of all the creatures, Of the land and sea and skies,
Of all the different species, And their variance in size.
He thought of all the plants and trees, And all that each provides,
Each growing from a tiny seed, With roots the soil hides.
He then looked at humanity, The sea of different faces,
Varied tongues and characters, From many distant places.
He thought of mortal bodies, With features so profound;
And the sense of taste and touch, And smell and sight and sound.
He thought of reproduction, And the miracle of birth.
He thought of human life itself, And all that it is worth.
He then considered human will: Both the weak and strong.
He thought about the conscience, That discerns the right from wrong.
He thought about emotions, And feelings that arise.
He thought about the love and hate, And tears that flow from eyes.
He thought about the anger, And the joy that’s all around.
He thought about the happiness, And sadness that is found.
And filled with curiosity, This boy would daily strive,
In hopeful expectation, That his answer would arrive.
He spoke with scientific men, Who claimed his question solved.
They told him of a great Big Bang, That all things had evolved.
He then spoke with philosophers—Heard some of them insist
That there's no true reality, And we do not exist.
He spoke with many people, From different groups and sects,
And heard the vast opinions, Of various intellects.
Now baffled by confusion, A very troubled youth,
Unable to discern, What is error, what is truth.
He almost gave up looking, But he took a second look.
And very unexpectedly, He found a special Book.
As he gazed upon the first page, He knew his search was done.
His questions all were answered, In Genesis chapter one.
With a nod of understanding, He smiled, so elated.
For now he surely knew—“In the beginning, God created . . .”
As we continue thinking about what it means to be distinct from the world, we would do well to look back in church history and consider the contribution of John Owen. Owen was a 17th century Puritan pastor and theologian. In response to the self-righteousness and spiritual numbness of his day, Owen wrote a book called “The Mortification of Sin,” which expounds upon the second half of Romans 8:13. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
The word mortify, in Owens context, means “to kill” or “to put to death”. One of the most well-known quotes from Owen’s work explains his usage of the term, where he said: “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
The word mortify, in Owen's context, means “to kill” or “to put to death”. One of the most well-known quotes from Owen’s work explains his usage of the term, where he said: “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
As we strive to be a holy people; people with a heavenly father who has called us to be holy as He is holy, we must take our efforts in personal holiness and in the mortification of sin seriously. Owen provides us with six principles to consider:
As genuine believers, we will only be perfected in glory (Phil 3:12). We can only rest when sin is dead. Until then, It is our responsibility as disciples of Christ to fight our flesh fiercely.
Sin always works to produce bad fruit. We must not be deceived by the masquerade of temptation. We know from both Scripture and experience that the result is always the same. Sin leads to death.
Unchallenged sin becomes stronger and more deceitful. Feeding the flesh, instead of crucifying it, only leads to a stronger, more intense flesh to contend with. Do not let the crafty serpent become a ferocious dragon.
God gives us the Holy Spirit and our new nature to oppose sin and lust (Gal. 5:17; 2 Pet. 1:4). The Holy Spirit is a person, and we grieve His work of holiness within us when we rebel against Him.
Believers grow weaker toward God as sin strengthens in them. As the desire for sin grows within, our desire for God and His Word weakens. We must treasure the grace that He has given to us.
Our spiritual growth is our daily duty (2 Pet. 3:18). Our sanctification is a byproduct of our relationship with God. If we neglect it, our spiritual vitality will suffer.
Brothers and sisters, as we pursue personal holiness and demonstrate our gospel-centered distinctiveness to a watching world, May we be encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a).
This past Sunday, we began a short sermon series which focuses on a couple of major moral issues taking place within our culture. The ultimate goal of our series is to discover that instead of conforming to our culture, passively, or confronting our culture in hostility, the Word of God calls us to a better way; and that is to be a counterculture; a community within our culture that is distinguished by the characteristics of truth and love.
In the first sermon of our series, “Counter Culture”, we talked about a new law that has just been instituted in Canada. This new law threatens to imprison individuals who help others convert from an unbiblical view on marriage, gender, or sexuality. And yet, conversion is an integral part of the hope that is found in the gospel.
“Yea, but that’s in Canada! What does that have to do with us?” some might say. Well, although we do live in the United States, we must understand that we are not immune from the threat of religious persecution. Just recently, a similar ordinance to the law in Canada was proposed in the city of West Lafayette, Indiana. Keep in mind, Indiana has historically been considered a morally conservative state. So, how should Christians in Canada, the U.S., and around the world respond?
Well, it begins with a solid understanding of the truth. As our culture sinks deeper and deeper into the abyss of sexual depravity, Christians must be steadfast in our commitment to the truth of God‘s word. This is how we avoid falling victim to the deception that we see taking place all around us. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul says: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
From there, standing firm with a backbone infused by the truth, we must have hearts that are overflowing with compassion. And, the source of that compassion comes from recognizing that God’s grace has rescued each of us, as genuine believers in Jesus Christ, from the sinful corruption of our past lives. Paul goes on to say, in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Therefore, may we be a people who stand firm for the truth, especially in the midst of the cultural winds that blow our way. But, let us also be a people whose sail bears the emblem of Christ’s cross. In doing so, we will both faithfully resist the storms of religious compromise and persecution, and according to God’s will, be a vessel of God’s grace to rescue some.
Recently, we had the opportunity to sing one of my favorite hymns. The origin of the hymn is Irish, and it’s called Be Thou My Vision. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, the words of this beautiful song are always a great reminder that the Lord is our greatest treasure and that He sets the trajectory of our lives:
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light
Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with thee one
Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art
High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all”
What’s up, church family! I am so excited to be back on board at the place where it all started! On Sunday, we discussed the book of Ecclesiastes, my favorite book in the entire Bible, and the primary takeaway from the text is to not waste our time on things that don’t matter from an eternal perspective. We talked about how we can waste our lives chasing a reputation, chasing money, chasing “the one”, but walk away feeling empty.
I love this book so much because I believe it relates to us in modern-day America so well. Every ad you see on TV shows us some new thing that will supposedly make us happy, whether that’s a new vehicle, a new line of makeup, or a new app for your phone. A lot of the movies that we see talk about these dream love stories that we wish were true of our own lives. It’s not a bad thing to find your person, it’s not a bad thing to have a vehicle or to have material things, but the Enemy tries to turn these good things into ultimate things and steer us away from God’s calling on our lives.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know that God’s purpose for your life is greater than anything this world can offer you. A verse that changed my life was Matthew 10:39, where Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Contrary to what everything and everyone around us is telling us, we find our lives when we surrender everything to follow Jesus. I want you to discover, or rediscover, the “abundant life” that is only found in Jesus.
What’s all this hectic rush and worry'
Where go these crowds who run and curry'
Why all the lights—the Christmas trees'
The jolly “fat man,” tell me please!
Why, don’t you know? This is the day
For parties and for fun and play;
Why this is Christmas!
So this is Christmas, do you say'
But where is Christ this Christmas day'
Has He been lost among the throng'
His voice drowned out by empty song'
No. He’s not here—you’ll find Him where
Some humble soul now kneels in prayer,
Who knows the Christ of Christmas.
But see the many aimless thousands
Who gather on this Christmas Day,
Whose hearts have never yet been opened,
Or said to Him, “Come in to stay.”
In countless homes the candles burning,
In countless hearts expectant yearning
For gifts and presents, food and fun,
And laughter till the day is done.
But not a tear of grief or sorrow
For Him so poor He had to borrow
A crib, a colt, a boat, a bed
Where He could lay His weary head.
I’m tired of all this empty celebration,
Of feasting, drinking, recreation;
I’ll go instead to Calvary.
And there I’ll kneel with those who know
The meaning of that manger low,
And find the Christ—this Christmas.
I leap by faith across the years
To that great day when He appears
The second time, to rule and reign,
To end all sorrow, death, and pain.
In endless bliss we then shall dwell
With Him who saved our souls from hell,
And worship Christ—not Christmas!
--M.R. DeHaan, M.D., Founder, Radio Bible Class
Without a doubt, this is a season of celebration. Within every neighborhood and city across the country, we find lights brightly shining, decorations conspicuously hanging, and families joyfully gathering. Indiscriminate of backgrounds and belief systems, the Christmas season has a powerful impact on people from all over the world. But, do they really understand the true reason for the season? More specifically, do we?
There is a common tendency among many to think of the Christmas season with warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. Some consider the Christmas story to be a sweet tale about a baby born in adverse circumstances. And, it is; but it’s also so much more. As we discover from God’s Word, in a very real way, the cradle of Christmas points us to the cross of Calvary.
The second chapter of Luke’s gospel is, perhaps, the best place to see the events of Christ’s birth. It’s there that we catch a glimpse of the baby born in a manger; but the details of His birth also beckon us to the reality that He is the God-man who would die on a cross. Like bookends to Christ’s earthly life, Scripture provides us with a number of parallels between Christ’s birth and His death. With God as the divine Poet, He has intentionally woven details and orchestrated circumstances in order to point us to the cross-centered purpose for Christ’s birth.
For example, at His birth, Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths, and He was laid in a borrowed manger (Luke 2:7). And, at His death, He was again wrapped in cloths, but this time He was laid in a borrowed tomb (Matt. 27:59). Like a prelude to Golgotha, then, Bethlehem was the birthplace of Life. And, so it is, that through Christ’s birth, He came to die. And, through His death, He brings forth life.
Therefore, the true message of Christmas is this: The perfect, righteous, sinless Son of God was born to willingly and lovingly die for imperfect, unrighteous, sinners like you and like me. As one hymn writer beautifully penned:
“From the cradle to the cross
From the Lord unto the lost
Came the message for all men
Christ was born to die for them
From Bethlehem to Calvary
Jesus paid the cost
For Love went all the way
From the cradle to the cross.”
Have you ever read one of the genealogies found in God’s Word and felt overwhelmed with joy? If you’re anything like me, that’s likely not your typical experience. Something happens when we start reading through the genealogies of Scripture. The eyes begin to glaze over. The lethargy starts to set in. We attempt tto pronounce names, and at some point, the names, along with all the begets, begin to run together, and that whole process begets yawning.
However, if we take the time to look closely at the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke 3, we’ll come to see that it truly is a genealogy of joy. Why? Because, it provides us with a summary of God’s steadfast faithfulness to keep His promises, even when we fail to honor Him with our lives. It’s a declaration of God’s glorious grace in the lives of His undeserving people. Stretching from Adam to Christ, the genealogy points us to the providential path of redemptive history.
Consider Cain who murdered his own brother, Abel, in cold blood; yet God was faithful to appoint a new son to Adam and Eve in Seth (v. 38).
Abraham doubted God’s power and laughed at the possibility of God’s promise, yet God was gracious to provide him and Sarah with Isaac (v. 34).
Jacob was deceptive and dishonest, yet God’s sovereign will prevailed (v. 34).
Judah was disobedient to the Lord, yet God would providentially use him to bring about “the obedience of the people” (v. 33, Gen. 49:10).
David used his power for a selfish purpose, yet God promised to establish Christ’s eternal throne through the Davidic line (v. 31).
These are but a few of the men highlighted in Jesus’ genealogy, and each one is a testament to God’s grace. And, the same is true for our lives as well. We fall short. We fail to love God with every ounce of our being. Yet, God is faithful. And, therefore, our joy is not tied to circumstances or performance. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is found in the character and attributes of God alone (Neh. 8:10).
Over the past two weeks of this Advent season, we’ve been focusing in on the tension that we experience as believers who exist between the two advents of Christ. Because of that, we are always called to be “Watching and Waiting”. The beauty of our waiting, of course, is that we’ve been given the gift of God’s peace. This peace recently caused me to reflect upon Paul’s words from Romans 8:18, which says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
So, what is Paul saying? He’s saying that as we face the challenges of this life; challenges that sometimes become intensified around the holidays, we can patiently persevere as we anticipate the glory that is coming. Considering just a taste of that glory, John Piper said:
- the glory of his eternality that makes the mind want to explode with the infinite thought that God never had a beginning, but simply always was;
- the glory of his knowledge that makes the Library of Congress look like a matchbox and quantum physics like a first grade reader;
- the glory of his wisdom that has never been and can never be counseled by men;
- the glory of his authority over heaven and earth and hell, without whose permission no man and no demon can move one inch;
- the glory of his providence without which not one bird falls to the ground or a single hair turns gray;
- the glory of his word that upholds the universe and keeps all the atoms and molecules together;
- the glory of his power to walk on water, cleanse lepers, heal the lame, open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear, still storms with a word, and raise the dead;
- the glory of his purity never to sin, or to have a two-second bad attitude or evil thought;
- the glory of his trustworthiness never to break his word or let one promise fall to the ground;
- the glory of his justice to render all moral accounts in the universe settled either on the cross or in hell;
- the glory of his patience to endure our dullness for decade after decade;
- the glory of his sovereign, slave-like obedience to embrace the excruciating pain of the cross willingly;
- the glory of his wrath that will one day cause people to call out for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them;
- the glory of his grace that justifies the ungodly; and
- the glory of his love that dies for us even while we were sinners.
* Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/consider-the-glory-of-god
In celebration of the Advent season, we began a new sermon series this week titled “Advent: Watching & Waiting”, and our first sermon in the series was from Isaiah 9:1-7, as we focused on the gift of hope. In context, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell His people that, due to their spiritual rebellion, judgment was coming. And yet, God did not leave His people without hope.
That hope came in the form of a promise: He, Himself, would also be coming. Known as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, the Lord promised to enter our world in the form of a child to transform our darkness into light, our death into life, and our despair into longing. What a promise! And, as believers living in 21st-century America, this promise of hope is just as relevant as ever before. After all, we live in a nation encompassed by spiritual darkness where:
“Wealth is idolized.
Truth is minimized.
Life is trivialized.
Abortion is legalized.
Television is vulgarized.
Advertising is sensualized.
Everything is sexualized and commercialized.
Consciences are desensitized.
Education is secularized.
Free markets are monopolized.
Politics and race are polarized.
Sports are scandalized.
Morals and ethics are liberalized.
In entertainment, crime is sensationalized, and immorality is popularized,
Drugs are legitimized,
Sin is glamorized.
The courts are paralyzed.
The breakup of the family is rationalized.
Manners are uncivilized.
Christians are demonized.
And God is marginalized.”*
Thankfully, the hope of the gospel extends to us as well! God, through His Son, kept His promise! He entered our world, lived the life we could not live, died the death we deserve, and conquered the grave in our place. So, this Advent season, let us reflect upon God’s faithfulness and tell everyone about how they too can find hope in Christ!
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it’s fitting that we would consider what a gospel-centered perspective on thankfulness should look like in the life of a believer. To be sure, the concept of gratitude and thanksgiving permeates the pages of Scripture. However, I’m not sure that “The Lord’s Prayer” is the first place we would cite as an example. Yet, what we find there is a beautiful framework for our thankfulness to God.
In the context of Matthew 6, Jesus was teaching His disciples the difference between practicing a dead religion and having a devoted relationship with the living God of the universe. In doing so, He provided a model prayer built upon a foundation of thanksgiving. So, why should we be thankful?
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v. 9): First and foremost, our gratitude begins with God’s identity and character. We do not worship a distant deity, but rather a loving and affectionate Father who is both infinitely holy and intimately personal.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10): We press on to see that our holy Father has ordained and orchestrated a great plan of redemption to rescue His people from the kingdom of darkness. Our hearts should overflow in gospel-centered thankfulness for the will of God to crush His own Son, in our place, and for the Son’s willingness to accomplish it.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (v. 11): Continuing on, we express our thankfulness to our sovereign Provider for His daily provision. This week, we will witness an extravagant demonstration of that as we gather for a meal with our family and friends, but we should also see the deeper significance of God’s spiritual provision as well.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (v. 12): The genuine believer should be humbled and grateful for the forgiveness God has shown to us. But like a river of forgiveness flowing from within, our transformed hearts should also overflow in forgiveness to others.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (v. 13): Finally, we realize that this framework for thanksgiving is not a prayer aimed primarily at our happiness, but our holiness. As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, we acknowledge our great need for the protection and guidance only God can provide.
So, this Thanksgiving, may genuine thanksgiving fill our hearts and be reflected in our lives. Through the lens of the gospel, we clearly see the person and work of our great God. Therefore, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
In a world filled with relativism and skepticism, the Word of God pierces through the ambiguity and provides us with objectivity and confidence. Simultaneously, the loudest voices in our culture promote a concept of love that is based upon shallow emotionalism and subjective self-gratification, while the Bible gives us both a foundation and definition for true love. One of the best places to see this is in the book of 2 John.
On Sunday, we spent our time looking at the second half of John’s “postcard epistle”, and we were asking the question, “What is the Church called to do with the gospel”? We’ve been given a divine gift; entrusted with a treasure from the gracious hands of our Savior, and He’s called us, as the Church, to steward it for His glory. So, what does that look like? Well, John provides us with the answer.
Rather than simply bend to the spirit of the age, we must stand firm. Instead of compromise, our posture must be one of tenacity for the truth and relentless love. Therefore, practically speaking, we must love in the truth, while speaking the truth in love. At the same time, we have a biblical mandate to protect the church and be on the lookout for false teachers and unbiblical doctrine. Our commitment and loyalty to the gospel must be of primary importance. Finally, the truth of the gospel is like cooling waters we swim in on a hot summer day. As the sometimes-suffocating messages of the world beat down on us, we dive into the rest and joy of God’s Word, saturating our minds in the truth of our Creator.
To sum up what we’ve seen from the letter of 2 John, Pastor John MacArthur said it well:
“In an age of relativism and skepticism, the church must remain firmly anchored to the solid foundation of divine truth. There is no place for dull, shallow, theologically contentless preaching, for worship based on emotion devoid of truth, or for tolerating false teaching. There is no virtue in ignorance; no substitute for learning, loving, and guarding the truth. Only by doing so will the church be able to fulfill its divine calling to be the pillar and support of the truth and the shining beacon of God’s truth in a world filled with darkness.”
The most frequently used metaphor in Scripture is that of walking. From a biblical perspective, a person’s walk is the characteristic pattern of their life. Inherent to the metaphor is both the direction and the eventual destination of the one walking. For the Apostle John, who is the most probable author of 2 John, seeing members of the church walking “in the truth” was a source of great joy (v. 4). But what could possibly make a person so excited to see this type of spiritual stride?
Well, to be sure, John was no mere spectator. Sure, he watched his spiritual children from afar, but as the last remaining apostle, he was also intimately involved in guiding the shepherds of the churches in Asia Minor. Therefore, to realize that some members were faithfully living out the gospel, in contrast to the many deceivers and defectors, it brought John much joy.
So, what does a joy-producing walk look like? Well, according to God’s Word, it’s a walk characterized by both truth and love. You see, truth and love are like these twin pillars that uphold the entire Christian faith. If you remove one, the entire thing falls. On the one hand, if you have truth without love, you have nothing but cold, mechanical, lifeless orthodoxy. But on the other hand, if you have love without truth, you have nothing but a shallow façade that’s based upon subjective feelings and self-satisfaction. So, truth and love are both vitally important. They go hand-in-hand. Truth is the foundation of love, and love is the fulfillment of truth. You can’t have one without the other, because they find their origin in God, Himself.
This profound combination of truth and love is precisely what we find in the gospel. The truth of the Good News is that God loves us and demonstrated the extent of His love by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Those who repent and embrace Christ as Lord and Savior are saved, and it drastically changes both their direction and their eventual destination. So, let me ask you, how’s your walk?
“Who is my neighbor”? That was the question asked by the lawyer in Luke 10. In response, Jesus presented the lawyer and the rest of the audience with a parable that rocked their world. Hopefully, as we began to understand Jesus parable more clearly on Sunday morning, it began to rock our world (in a good way) as well. Flowing from Jesus’ parable, I wonder if we understand and embrace the reality that our neighbor includes those who have a different skin color than we do, a different lifestyle, a different political affiliation, a different social status, and even a different religion. It these image-bearers of God, and more, that we have been called to love.
Thankfully, although we often love imperfectly, the gospel tells us that we have a neighbor who did love perfectly; a good neighbor who fulfilled the Law of Love down to the very letter. And friends, this is where the true scandal of love is found. Even though we were His enemies; even though we rebelled against His majesty, our neighbor, Jesus Christ, came looking for us. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. And not only were we lost; not only were we beaten and bloodied by our own sinful and rebellious choices, but we were the ones lying dead and lifeless, in our trespasses and sins.
Our Savior sacrificed His own life and died in our place. And then, through His resurrection, He picked up our lifeless bodies and breathed into us the breath of life. It is through that life, with the Spirit of God dwelling within us, that we are empowered and given a supernatural desire to love sacrificially, the way our Savior has loved us. In light of this scandalous love, how can we love our neighbor today?
Wow! That’s what I kept thinking as I reflected upon this past Lord’s Day. We were blessed to have Rob Ely with us for the morning services. Rob serves on staff with Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) at Marshall University. BCM is actively discipling students at 9 different college campuses throughout the state of West Virginia. Although later that evening we would be celebrating “Unity Night”, having Rob with us in the morning made the whole day feel like “Unity Sunday.” He provided us with a sermon from Romans 12:1-2 and Hebrews 12:1-3, which encouraged and challenged us to serve the Lord and follow Him wherever He may lead us as a church.
In the evening, we had the opportunity to celebrate the unity we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having both FBC Kenova and Legacy Huntington together for one service was a beautiful demonstration of the unity we enjoy as one congregation. We spent our time in God’s Word focusing on the multifaceted ways in which gospel-centered unity expresses itself. Namely, that gospel-centered unity:
- Exalts Christ
- Elevates the cross
- Expresses humility
- Exhibits maturity
- Echoes submission to Christ
- Embraces God’s promises
In addition, the shepherds prayed over me, we affirmed new members, and we sang songs of praise to God and one another for all that He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you weren’t there, you now know why I said, “Wow!” If you were there, you’re probably still reflecting upon the goodness of God to our church family.
--For His Glory, Pastor Kevin
As we consider the opening words of Scripture, there is an awe-inspiring reality that comes leaping from the page: “In the beginning God created…”. We can all think of people whom we would consider to be creative, but what we realize from Genesis 1:1 is that creativity finds its origin in our Creator. And, therefore, the impetus and foundation for all creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and innovation is the gloriously creative brilliance of the one, true, and living God.
From the Genesis account of creation, we discover that human beings have been designed in the “Imago Dei”, the image of God (Gen. 1:26). At the very least, this means that we have been created to think, feel, and intentionally reflect God’s glory. Like the moon reflects the sun, humanity has been created to mirror the character and creativity of God.
To this end, God has blessed His image-bearers and provided them with a creation mandate (Gen. 1:28). This three-fold mandate calls us to be fruitful and increase in number, to fill the earth with God-glorifying works, and to exercise dominion over the rest of creation through faithful stewardship and cultivation. In short, we’ve been created to be creative.
Due to the Fall, however, we are all painfully and intimately aware of the way sin has corrupted our divine purpose. Rather than fulfilling the mandate we’ve been given, selfishness and self-centeredness pervades our existence. Like the tower builders of Babel, humanity uses its time, talents, and treasures to bring glory to themselves instead of making God’s name great among the nations (Gen. 11:1-9; Mal. 1:11). Furthermore, in our fallenness, we become slaves to creation, worshiping the creature rather than our Creator (Rom. 1:25).
It is against this pitch-black backdrop of darkness that the beauty of the gospel shines so brightly. As the Apostle Paul writes, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). This intentional parallel to God’s original creation points us to the reality that our salvation is our recreation. In Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
Thus, as the redeemed people of God, recreated in Christ Jesus, our hearts have been transformed, our minds have been renewed, and we have now been called to a new creation mandate (Eph. 2:8-10; Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 12:1-2). Clarifying and expounding upon the original mandate, Jesus has called his disciples to a three-fold commission: to be fruitful and multiply by making disciples, to fill the earth with God’s redemptive work, and to cultivate obedience to Christ through the teaching of his Word (Matt. 28:16-20).
With this creative commission in mind, as those who have experienced the gracious restoration and recreation of God, may we be renewed in our compassion for the broken. As a church, may we abound with the hope of redemption. And, may we be more committed than ever before to share the good news of the gospel to the praise of God’s glorious grace.
In 1 Samuel 1 we are reminded of our role as parents. In this particular story in the Bible Hannah was barren. She prayed and vowed to give her child to the Lord if she could conceive.
God granted her request and Hannah gave birth to Samuel. Hannah exalted God for His gracious acts and she made good on her promise, leaving Samuel at the worship center in Shiloh to learn and train in the house of the Lord, giving back to God what He had given her in the first place. We learned that Samuel went on to be one of the great heroes of the faith. He led as a judge, priest and a prophet. But remember, this would have never happened if his parents didn’t take him to church.
There are many things that keep us from being involved in church. In our community, the biggest distraction is sports. I was once reminded that a child can be an all-star basketball/volleyball/football player in buddy league, earn 1stteam all-state in their particular sport in high school and be awarded West Virginia player of the year. From there go on to college and become an All-American, win the highest awards such as the Heisman, even, make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Move on from college to play professional ball, being so great they are inducted into the Hall of Fame. They could reach the pinnacle of achievements in their sport receiving all the accolades, but if they lose their soul and go to Hell was it worth it?
If you need a “spiritual halftime”, a new start, a time to refocus on the LORD, being around a church family is a good place to start. Growing in Christ is always worth it.
Below are my top 10 reasons to be part of a church!
- To encourage one another and be encouraged. (Proverbs 27:17)
- To hear the preaching of God’s word! (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Tim. 2:4:2)
- To break bread, fellowship, and PRAY for one another! (Acts 2:42)
- To be mentored. (Titus 2)
- Teaches our kids to love church! (Luke 6:40, Proverbs 22:6)
- So, we can give to the Lord. (2 Cor. 9:7)
- To confess sin and bear each other’s burdens & Forgive as Christ forgave us! (Galatians 6:2, Eph. 4:32)
- Find and practice your spiritual gifts! (1 Peter 4:10)
- To encourage your Pastor! (1 Thess. 1:4-5; Hebrews 13:17)- No one else in the Bible is charged with the watch care of your soul other than your pastor.
- Because God says so! (Hebrews 10:25)
In 2021 and beyond I am pleading with parents to re-focus. Think about their families from an eternal perspective and not a right now, earthy perspective. Let’s thank God for the life of Hannah, her example as a parent and let us never forget that, just like Hannah, we have the power to start the process (Proverbs 22:6).
There is a great battle occurring between Satan and God. The believer is centered in this conflict. It’s Satan’s Will vs Christ’s Will. As believers we also have a Will. Daily we are confronted with the fleshly pride (the Will of the Flesh) and we must “Choose Wisely” to either listen to Satan or Jesus.
The Old Testament transliteration for Pride is being “lifted up.” Lifting up self without God creates a path to failure. Proverbs says lifting up oneself will end in great hurt. (translation) Uplifting yourself WILL end in destruction for yourself and others around you! Children are born with pride but they learn how to use it from us adults. Pride is all of me and absolutely nothing about God. Pride is the utmost Sin. Lifting up ourselves is the root of all evil. So where are you and I on the uplifting scale?
The submission of one’s will is placing on God’s altar the only uniquely personal thing one has to place there. The many other things we “give” are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.
“When we finally submit ourselves by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, we will really be giving something to Him!” -Neal Maxwell
Our Prayer must be, “Lord thy Will not mine.” My Will chooses the path of life in Christ and not the road of destruction in Satan.
-- Jack Finch
I want to share with you a fictional story about a King who had a son that the people rejected. This son loved his father’s people more than they of course loved him. The people thought they had killed the king’s son but he was alive.
Later in time those who loved their King and his Son yearned to see the son. The Son returned and led those faithful servants who overcame life obstacles to a place of safety and renewal.
Later in time the father told his Son to establish His throne and destroy the enemy. Now there were all those servants who had always been faithfully preparing and serving, to sit and reign with Him; the other servants were satisfied to remain more about themselves and not the Son.
Jesus said, “To the Church of Laodecia,” the one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. You see, The Laodiceans had a First Commandment problem. They had for gotten God and we’re focusing only on themselves. In other words, so sadly, they had become an Institutional Church.
Jesus told them, I overcame and so can you. The Holy Spirit will help you with the life you are living therefore, we will have a strong working relationship in the millennium and eternity). How We SERVE Christ Today, Is How We Will SERVE Him In Eternity…. Believe it or not, The life we now live will have eternal consequences…
Let our Church continue to offer the Study of His Word, Worship only Him with Holy Hands, Witness the Salvation Message, and Serve The Living Christ through the Church.
Through the most recent challenging times, the Great Shepherd, our Shepherd’s, Leaders, and Members have been most faithful. Therefore, one day coming soon, it will be worth it all…when we see Jesus! Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ. One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase. So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.
On behalf of me and my family, I want to thank you, FBC Kenova and Legacy Huntington, for a wonderful candidate weekend! From Saturday’s Q & A time to the Sunday morning worship services, we were so encouraged by our time together, and of course, by the overwhelming vote of affirmation to my calling as your Senior Pastor.
So, now begins the transition process. We’re anxious to begin our new ministry with you, so please be in prayer for all the details of our upcoming move. In the meantime, since I can’t yet be there with you in person, I’m using a picture directory (and Facebook) to learn your names and faces. There are so many wonderful new people to get to know, so I won’t make any particular promises, but to make it fair, I’ll give you a challenge as well. If you can remember the names of my kids, and their ages, you’ll be off to a great start!
So, here goes: McKenna (12), Landon (10), Meela (8), Madison (6), Liam (4), Levi (2), & Mariah (2 months). To give you a helpful tip, the names of all our girls start with the letter “M”, and our boys all start with the letter “L”.
If you’re interested in knowing a little bit more about me, I enjoy spending time with my family. We like to travel, see new places, and visit the beach. I love to write and to read books about theology. Soccer is my favorite sport, but I also like watching basketball and football. I also enjoy a nice cup of coffee (or two) especially over an engaging conversation.
Alicia and I could not be more excited to begin this new chapter of our family’s life, and we’re looking forward to forming new friendships. The longing of our hearts is to impact the Tri-State with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we’re grateful that God has given us the opportunity to do that with all of you!
For His Glory,
Malachi was the last prophet before the intertestamental period, the 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and New Testament, to prophesy to the Israelites. This prophet communicates the importance of genuine worship and reminds the Israelite people to stay focused and give God their very best worship. There are many themes in the book of Malachi but here are a few I would like to point out:
1. God’s love is constant.
The constant love of God is the master theme that reoccurs throughout the book. It reveals the unfailing love of Yahweh for His people. We find this theme introduced at the very beginning of the book (1:2a). "I have loved you in the past, I love you in the present, and I will love you in the future." They are loved because they are a chosen people! (Mal. 1:1-5).
2. Give God your best worship.
Malachi's mission was to motivate the returnees to get back into fellowship with their God.
Like the Israelites of old, how often do we go through the motions on Sunday morning with an attitude, we ‘have’ to go to church, or this is something we ‘just’ do…rather than we ‘get’ to worship God! It is possible to attend the place of worship, to go through the motions of worship, and even to make sacrifices, and still not worship God—to have no fellowship with God. When these Jews lost their love for Yahweh, Malachi urged them to wake up! Give God your best!
3. Fearing God leads to proper worship.
In Malachi 3:16 there was a smaller remnant among the remnant who returned from Babylon: the restoration community. These faithful people listened to and took heed to Malachi’s instruction. We too are called to have a reverent fear of the Lord. Also, this starts with your church leaders (Malachi chapter 2). Show me a church whose leaders don’t fear the Lord, that don’t hold true to doctrine, and I will show you a congregation that does not fear the Lord and compromises God’s Word.
4. Hope for the believer
Malachi 4:2 says that those who revere the name of God will live forever! Whereas those who willfully choose to not believe, will have a drastically different outcome; eternal death. The hope extended to us is freely given to all who believe from all nations, from all backgrounds; this is a global thing.
I encourage you to take some time over the next several weeks and read through the book of Malachi. My prayer is that it opens your eyes, challenges you, and draws you closer to our Jesus.
The search Committee is excited for this upcoming weekend and for the congregation to meet our pastoral candidate and his family.
Saturday Q&A Sessions:
Huntington Legacy - 11:00am
FBC Kenova Sanctuary - 3:30pm
Experience: Our candidate has pastored churches in both Ohio and Indiana. He has served in various ministry roles over the years, including as Senior Pastor. He has experience in church planting, merging, revitalization, and growth. The candidate places great emphasis on maintaining a gospel-centered ministry to his family and the church. He believes strongly in expository preaching and does so with conviction, clarity, and compassion. Also having the God-given heart of a shepherd, our candidate desires to faithfully care for the souls of the flock God has entrusted to him.
Education: Our candidate received his Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management from Shawnee State University, his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry in Expository Preaching from The Master's Seminary.
Family: He is married with seven children ages 12 and under; four girls and three boys. He and his wife both grew up in the Tri-State and are looking forward to coming back to the area.
--The Pastoral Search Committee
Refresh the Saints with Effective Fellowship (Philemon 4–7)
“I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”
(Philemon 1:4–7 NKJV)
Paul wrote to his “beloved friend and fellow laborer” in the faith, Philemon, concerning a sensitive and difficult matter involving damaged relationships and directions for gospel-centered reconciliation. In verses 4–7, Paul shared the content of his prayers for Philemon. He highlights the frequency of remembrance as “at all times,” the occasion of remembrance as “hearing of your love and faith . . . toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints,” and the request of his remembrance as “that the sharing of your faith may become effective.” At first glance, we may mistakenly think that “sharing of your faith” refers to evangelism; however, the term here is koinonia—which is typically translated “fellowship.” Paul’s request for Philemon in the unfolding situation with Onesimus is not that his evangelism may become effective but rather that his fellowship may become effective.
How could Philemon’s effective fellowship have made a difference in the unfolding situation in the local church that met in his house? Paul provided us with the means by which his fellowship could become effective—“by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” To expand a bit, Paul prayed that Philemon’s knowledge of the good things in himself for Christ’s sake may become effective for the church in this developing situation. As students of Paul’s writings and theology, we know that the Holy Spirit is illuminating our minds and transforming our hearts by means of all that Christ’s salvation can accomplish in us, through us, and for us for the sake of the glory of Christ. Paul’s powerful and timely prayer request asked God to make Philemon’s knowledge of these good things in him to result in effective fellowship in the church and in reconciliation.
Throughout the letter, Paul demonstrated his confidence that Philemon’s fellowship would become effective. His confidence must have come from past dealings with Philemon “because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.” Philemon had a reputation for being a “Refresher of the Saints.” How effective is your fellowship? Is it consistent with what you know about the good things in you for Christ’s sake?
I am so very grateful for our time together this past summer. Aimee and I will continue to remember you and pray that you will be “refreshers of the saints.” We look forward to thanking God for you as we hear more and more about your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints.
In staff meeting this week we looked into Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians. In typical Pauline style, he opened this book with praise and adoration for our Lord. What really got our attention is how he did so in such a way that the brothers of Corinth were edified. He thanks God for them (because of His grace). Paul tells them how they are enriched in every way (because they are in Him). These are just a few examples of Paul’s edification of the believers through his praising of our Lord.
Too many times, we focus our attention upon what we don’t have or simply we don’t see how truly blessed we are. We could focus on the positions that need filled in the church or we could praise Him for helping us to become more focused on Jesus (and not man). We could get discouraged that fall ministries will be kicking off soon and the youth don’t have a “Garage”, or we can praise Him that we have a covered sanctuary to worship in and that the new building is progressing fast.
Praise God for the 100+ youth and adult servants that shared their love for Jesus through the week of VBS. Praise God for the opportunity to share the Gospel with so many children at all 4 Nic@Nights as well as for the faithful servants that see the vision for His “church”. Praise God for using our worship leaders in such a big way this past Sunday that brought so many to an adoration of Him. Praise God for faithful shepherds that invest many hours/days each week to pray over our requests. Praise God for His goodness in my life and the blessing it has always been to county you all as my brothers and sisters.
What would His kingdom here in Kenova look like if we continually praised Him and edified His people? Wouldn’t it be desirable to have others covet and crave the object of our affection – Jesus?
Through the decree of Cyrus the Great (538 B.C.E.), which was later confirmed during the reign of Darius I (522–486 B.C.E.), the Jews were permitted by the Persian Empire to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple (Dennis, 1741). The Persian emperors did more than simply permit the return and rebuilding; they also provided security and resources for the project (see Ezra 6:1–15) until the completion of the temple in March of 515 B.C.E (Verhoef, 29). Despite the support from the Persian emperors, the rebuilding project ceased around 536 B.C.E. and did not begin again until the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah in 520 B.C.E (Smith, 300).
Like many of the prophets, we do not know much about the prophet Haggai’s personal background. His name means “festal,” which has given scholars fodder for conjecture: (1) perhaps he was born at the time of a festival; (2) perhaps such a name anticipated the timing of the prophet’s ministry—“1:1 on the New Moon’s day, 2:1 on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and 2:18 on the day when the ‘foundation’ of the temple was laid”; or (3) perhaps “Haggai” is not the prophet’s real name but a name given to the author because of the calendar events associated with the prophet’s ministry (Verhoef, 5). Further, little is known about Haggai’s “exilic experience.” Some conclude that Haggai was an older man who saw the glory of Solomon’s temple (see 2:3) and that he was either one of those who returned from the Babylonian captivity or one who had remained in the desolate Jerusalem until others returned. Others suggest that Haggai was a younger man who was born in Babylon and traveled to Jerusalem after the decrees of the Persian emperors (Verhoef (6–7).
Regardless of his background, the prophet Haggai bursts into the lives of a discouraged population in Jerusalem with a brief but powerful ministry during which he communicated a single-minded message that reoriented the spiritual center of the people and the leadership. To the surprise of the reader of the prophetic literature, the people respond in obedience! Haggai’s message to the leaders and inhabitants of Jerusalem is to “Consider Your Priorities” (1:5, 7; 2:15, 18). The leaders and people had established priorities in their lives that were inconsistent with their covenant responsibility and covenant loyalty to YHWH. For example, 1:4 reveals that the people were busy about building their own homes while the house of Lord remained in a state of ruin. The glory and pleasure of the Lord had taken a backseat to the people’s comfort to which the Lord responded with judgments according to the stipulations of the covenant (1:5–6, 9–11; cf. Deut. 11:13–17) (Boda, 94–5). The Lord stirred the hearts of the leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the people to respond with obedience by rebuilding the temple of the Lord (1:12–15) as Haggai encourages them with the promise of God’s presence (1:13), to be strong in the Lord’s presence and fear not (2:3–5), and to trust in the Lord’s sovereignty (2:7–9). Upon responding to Haggai’s message to “Consider Your Priorities,” the temple was eventually rebuilt signifying the return of the Lord’s glory, presence, and blessing upon his people.
As our time together in James’ letter draws to a close, I pray that we will take eleven truths with us as we walk in this world as new creations in Christ — those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The person living a regenerate life:
- Stays on track to maturity during testing (1:1–8).
- Practices eternal economic stewardship (1:9–18).
- Hospitably hosts the word of God (1:19–27).
- Chooses compassion over partiality (2:1–13).
- Possesses a faith that works (2:14–26).
- Moderates the tongue (3:1–12).
- Harvests harmony (3:13–18).
- Weeps today for a better harvest tomorrow (4:1–10).
- Submits speech to the Sovereign Lord (4:11–17).
- Measures the misery of evil economics in anticipation of Christ’s return (5:1–12).
- Cares for the congregation’s condition (5:13–20).
On Sunday, we studied James’ call to these congregations to care for their spiritual condition. He primarily focused on a ministry of prayer for the suffering, for the cheerful, for the sin-sick member, and for the wanderer from the truth. Perhaps, the Lord is moving you toward a more committed prayer life for the care of the congregation. Here are eight principles that serve as a beginner’s guide to start a prayer meeting;
• The elders/shepherds should lead the way (Acts 6:2–4).
• Meeting places can vary (Acts 5:42; 12:12).
• Study the Bible’s teaching and examples of prayer (e.g., Phil. 1:9–11; Matt. 6:9–13).
• Plan Scriptural movements of prayer for the meeting (e.g., A.C.T.S. = Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).
• Coordinate music with the movements of prayer.
• Involve the congregation in the prayer meeting (e.g., small groups, “popcorn” prayers,” postures of prayer, testimonies of praise and lament, etc.).
• Persevere with the prayer meeting.
• Keep and share a list of prayer requests, answers to prayer, and a prayer calendar.
Dr. and Pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the great prayer warriors in the history of the evangelical church movement. He once wrote, “Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 322).
Please continue reading for a message and prayer request from Nick Windisch regarding our collegiate ministry.
The Table: A Place to Gather
A little over a year ago the college ministry started a Tuesday night bible study. The idea was to have all the elements of Acts 2:42 packed into one night. We affectionately call that Tuesday night Bible study “The Table” because we all sit down at a long table and enjoy fellowship together over dinner. Over the last year, the group has grown in relationship to God and to each other. For Melissa and I, it has been a blessed year! We plan to continue this year in much the same way but also feel compelled to share that blessing to collegiate students in the surrounding area who are not currently connected to our church body.
With this in mind, a team of people including members of the Missions Committee and Shepherds will be opening up the Legacy Church Huntington building as a place to gather for college students during the week. We are praying that as students come into our building, they will ultimately experience the grace and love of God through His people and to top it off they will have access to free wifi and coffee. Our plan is to call this “The Table: a place to gather” and our Bible study will then become “The Tuesday Table”. I believe that this will be a place where our current collegiate age members will be able to serve and pray that they will gain confidence in having spiritual conversations with their peers.
There are many details to work out and a great need for volunteers to give their time in service. Please be in prayer for this. Pray and ask God if He would have you be part of this outreach opportunity.
For many years, our family has held 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 as our mission statement and it seems fitting again. It says “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,”. Our prayer is that God would continue to use all of us to smell like Christ to the young adults in our community!
In their commentary on the book of James, Blomberg and Kamell suggest that James employed his most challenging rhetoric on the rich and the poor in 5:1–12. On Sunday, we took a closer look at the evidence against the wealthy landowners (5:1–6). James goes so far as to call them murderers. Regarding whether this is figurative or not, Daniel Doriani explains, “As before in James chapter 4:2, the murder is probably figurative. Yet by withholding their wages, the rich condemned the poor to poverty, even starvation.” Blomberg and Kamell go further, “The rich would have access and power in the courts with the ability to carry their own desires in legal form. Meanwhile, following the example of Christ, these righteous ones await God's justice to be enacted on their behalf.” Therefore, while I still think it is possible that literal violence and murder against the poor could have been taking place; I think it also very clear that the weapons of legalized corruption leading to the starvation and murder made up part of the arsenal against the poor.
We can glean several imperatives from James 5:7–12. All of these have to do with our waiting for the Lord's return. First, we must be patient for justice. Second, we must strengthen our hearts. Third, we must not complain. Fourth, we must follow godly examples of suffering. For James, neither pacifism nor revolution is the answer in suffering, rather James sets forth the prophetic model, which denounces injustice even when the perpetrator is more powerful. The prophetic model is a ministry of the word of God. Finally, we must not deal in falsehoods and desperate oaths. Blomberg and Kamell write, “the poor Christians might be tempted to use oaths to fend off creditors or to obtain credit for food and other necessities even knowing that prompt payment would be possible only with a miracle.” They go on to say, “Oaths can force us into behavior that does not glorify God. Not only can our speech bring either honor or dishonor to God; we are also to be people whose word is accepted as trustworthy, without needing to swear by anything for others to trust us.”
The believer who exhibits patience, strength, contentment, truthfulness, and the prophetic model of the ministry of the word demonstrates what it means to live a regenerate life in the face of injustice. As the Psalmist writes, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1–2).
Slander replaces the truth with falsehood, and in so doing, we break the ninth commandment, which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). The commandment forbids making false accusations and bearing untruths against a neighbor. We may at this point remember Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan. The question “Who is my neighbor?” provoked Jesus’ parable. In summary, Jesus taught us not to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” as a way of distinguishing and discriminating, but rather to ask, “Am I a good neighbor?” We can apply this to slander and the ninth commandment — Am I a good neighbor when it comes to handling the facts about my neighbors? Do I handle congregational talk as a careful and truthful steward? If I choose slander and break the commandment, then I also seek to position myself in the place of God, as lawgiver and judge. James agreed with the apostle Paul, who wrote, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”; and “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Colossians 3:9–10; Ephesians 4:25 ESV). Brothers and sisters, we have been regenerated by God’s Spirit to imitate him as truth-tellers and to be part of a community marked by truth-telling.
In his commentary Be Mature, Warren Wiersbe outlines verses 13–17 in this way (pp. 138–46). First, the merchants ignored God’s will (vv. 13–14, 16). James exposed the foolishness of ignoring God’s will by highlighting “the complexity of life,” “the uncertainty of life,” “the brevity of life,” and “the frailty of man.” Next, the merchants disobeyed God’s will (v. 17). The aspects of the verbs tell the story—they possessed knowledge of God’s will that should have been influencing their behavior and speech in the present, shoulder-to-shoulder of daily living and business. However, they failed to act on that knowledge in their daily affairs. Therefore, James taught them that they were sinning. Finally, Wiersbe highlights that James told them how to obey God’s will (v. 15). Wiersbe writes, “’If the Lord wills’ is not just a statement on a believer’s lips; it is the constant attitude of his heart. ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’ (John 4:34) . . . Paul [also] did not consider the will of God a chain that shackled him; rather, it was a key that opened doors and set him free” (p. 142 [brackets mine]). Davids, another commentator, writes, “There is nothing unusual about the situation [of the young entrepreneurial merchants] . . . What bothers James is simply the presumption that one could so determine his future and the fact that these plans move forward on an entirely worldly plane in which the chief value is financial profit” (p. 172 [brackets mine]).
How one makes plans should be affected by thoughtfulness toward the will of God. A man or woman vocationally committed to God’s will treat their employees and co-workers with godliness and will look at their profits with eyes of regenerate religion, like in 1:26–27. There is an urgency to this life—we are like the mist. We must find, follow, and enjoy God forever. Let’s love truth and truthfulness and envision a future with God in it.
- “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas E Edison.
- “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” Ann Landers
- “If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” Tom Peters
Do you see a common theme?
God gives us so many opportunities to reach the unchurched/lost. Too often we are either afraid, unsure of ourselves, blinded by the opportunity or simply don’t want to get outside of our “bubble”. We see time and again in the Bible where God equips His children. You have heard “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.” God has given each of us many talents, though if not used for His glory – then in vain.
Plain and simple: we have VBS that starts this Sunday. We anticipate 150-200 kids (not counting their parents). There will be many that don’t have a church they belong to. Even more tragic, there will be many that don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Additionally, Nic@Night is returning this year at the CK football field on August 8th and 15th. Likewise, we anticipate many opportunities there to reach kids for Christ. Whether it is singing in the choir, helping with the tech team, serving in the Garage, on a bereavement team, teaching Sunday school, leading in AWANA, or serving on security – God has called you to serve!
Where is He calling you to serve?
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Church, thank you once again for allowing me to fill the pulpit. I am always grateful to open up God's Word with you. I would like to remind you of three truths mentioned in Sunday's sermon,
- Once saved there is no eternal punishment for sin
There is always grace and forgiveness at the cross! If David can murder a man, get a married woman pregnant, and be forgiven, we too can be forgiven for our sinful acts! Remember, when you come to Christ by faith, genuinely believe in him and what he did on the cross, you’re washed and redeemed, for the rest of your life. Will you stop sinning? Of course not. John says, “Anyone who claims to be without sin he’s a liar. He deceives himself”. We all mess up, but if we confess, as 1 John reads, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Forgive others! If God is that gracious and will forgive your sin, who has sinned against you that you need to forgive?? We are to imitate Christ.
- Who’s Your Nathan! Who is willing to be courageous and loving enough to speak truth into your life!? If you don’t have a “Nathan” pray God places that person on your mind then go seek them out. On the flip side are you playing the role of Nathan to someone else? Personally, I need Nathans in my life to speak wisdom, encourage me, help me stay grounded in my faith, and you do too.
I for one am grateful the Bible doesn’t isolate us from knowing the big failures of heroes of the faith like David. Despite those big failures, David was humble and confessed his sin. What was the result? His sin was washed away clean, gone, as far as the east is from the west! This is the same gift given to us all through Jesus Christ.
James’ final paragraph of chapter three teaches us that there are two kinds of leaders, two kinds of wisdom, and two kinds of harvests.
The church needs born again leadership. Regenerate leaders have received the wisdom from above. This wisdom is marked by meekness and good conduct. When the church is sowing peace and harvesting righteousness, you can be sure that regenerate leaders are stewarding the ministry. However, if the church life is filled with quarrels, disorder, and wicked practices, the hearts of the leaders may very well be motivated by bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. The primary motivating focus of these two groups of leaders is drastically different. The former recognizes the stewardship of heaven’s provision of wisdom for God’s people, but the latter sees leadership as an opportunity to advance an individual agenda for individual glory. It may seem odd to call for born again leaders; however, the people of God have always faced temptations to put those in leadership who look the part but who do not have the heart (e.g., 1 Samuel 16).
Two kinds of wisdom exist. James tells us that these two very different kinds of wisdom originate from two very different places. First, there is a wisdom that is not from above. Second, there is a wisdom from above. The former wisdom is described in earthly and hellish terms. The demonic and human rebellion against God demonstrated its philosophy. It has its source in wicked spirits rather than the Holy Spirit. The latter wisdom comes to us from heaven, God's dwelling place. It must come down to us; therefore, this wisdom is alien to us. It must be given; It must be received. We are not born with it; rather, we are born again with it. Again and again, James spells out the essentiality of regeneration for the faith and life of the church.
Finally, these two kinds of leadership motivated by two very different kinds of wisdom result in two kinds of harvests. The churches to whom James wrote were already experiencing the harvest of bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and partiality (cf. James 4). The harvest bears the fruit of quarrels, division, pride, murderous anger, and other similar fruit. Paul would see here the work of the flesh. However, James spoke of another harvest reaped by those who possess the wisdom from above. The seed that they sow is peace. Biblical peace has two connotations. First, the Old Testament connotation of peace conveys wholeness, shalom. Second, the New Testament connotation of peace emphasizes the salvation of Messiah as the only source for this wholeness. Therefore, only a leader whose life has been transformed by the gospel and who is walking in a manner worthy of the gospel can sow this seed. This seed is sown on the soil of relationships, decisions, words, and administrations in the church. The harvest from such sowing is righteousness. Righteousness here should be understood in two ways. First, the term carries its basic meaning of uprightness, and second, the term expresses a mark or a sign of the true people of God and the presence of his Spirit (cf. Phil. 1:9–11).
James has issued a call for teachers who possess regenerate tongues (3:1–12) and regenerate wisdom (3:13–18). Regenerate words and wisdom originate from heaven, from God himself, and carry the power of sparking revival and harvesting righteousness in an unregenerate world.
My wife Christie and I are extremely thankful for our partnership in the gospel with FBC Kenova. As we shared with the church this past Sunday morning, the seed of the gospel is bearing fruit in our day in places where the soil has been very hard for centuries. We trust we will continue to see doors to unreached peoples and places opened through our partnership to the glory of God.
The gospel is the “power of God unto salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16). But the gospel is not simply a creed or formula to be memorized or repeated. Jesus calls his followers to follow Him in a life of discipleship. This involves, among other things, denying self, taking up one’s cross and following after Jesus (Matthew 16:24).
Many make the mistake of desiring to “keep” their lives instead of surrendering them to Jesus. Believers often make this grave error. Jesus says, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Last Sunday we shared a number of stories of young men from Muslim backgrounds who had given up everything in order to follow after Jesus. Our Lord demands nothing less from us. And, if we properly understand our lives and the scope of history from God’s perspective, this “exchange” makes good sense. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
The gospel is a life-changing, destiny-altering proposition from God to man. It may cost a person everything to say “yes” to God, but the benefits far outweigh the value of things we must lay down in order to follow in the steps of our Savior.
James described the depraved nature and activity of the human tongue as a hell-sourced spark with a destruction radius capable of encompassing the entirety of life (vv. 5b–6). He explains that the tongue is untamable, poisonous (cf. Rom. 3:10ff.), and duplicitous. When faced with the reality of the depravity of the tongue, I believe the Holy Spirit sparks a different desire in believers, a desire sourced in the wisdom from above. By the Spirit, a believer desires regenerate words, words of life that give life.
The Scriptures frequently exhibit the power of words to generate life. By words, the world was created (Gen. 1). By the words of the gospel message, repentant, believing sinners are redeemed in Jesus Christ. By words, we show love and respect in our homes (1 Pet. 3:1–7). By words, we can give grace and build up one another (Eph. 4:29; 2:15). By the word of the Lord Jesus, the culmination of his kingdom will come and the defeat of his enemies (Rev. 19:15–16).
As we learned on Sunday, not all of us are teachers in the formal or official sense of a church office. However, all of us as Christians find ourselves in teachable moments – vessels whom the Holy Spirit wishes to use for God’s glory. A great place to start a spark of regenerate words is in the home and with your neighbors. Lead the way in your home becoming a place where hell-sparked catastrophe is traded for heaven-sent conversation, a place where old ways of talking are traded for a new language, a place where old hearts of stone have been traded for living hearts on which are etched the very words of God. While a bridle works on horses, a helmsman steers a ship, and a fireman sets the boundaries of a forest fire, our gracious heavenly Father has provided us with the Holy Spirit – the constant presence of the great Helper who fills us with the words of life.
In his outline of this passage in the book of James, Warren Wiersbe in Be Mature sees a “Dead Faith (2:14–17),” a “Demonic Faith (2:18–19),” and a “Dynamic Faith (2:20–26).” Wiersbe demonstrates the continuity between Paul and James by referencing such passages as 2 Corinthians 13:5; Titus 1:16; and Titus 3:8 (83–93). In the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: James, Blomberg and Kamell write, “Works as the necessary outgrowth of true, saving faith characterize the biblical witness from beginning to end . . . Galatians 5:6 likewise epitomizes Paul’s understanding of ‘faith expressing itself through love,’ just as Php 2:12–13 and Eph. 2:8–10 both balance classic texts on God’s gracious initiative in salvation with the insistence on good deeds as a believer’s response” (142).
Peter Davids in the NIGT Commentary on The Epistle of James does an excellent job framing out the content and the context of this passage. He writes, “The examples in 2:15–16 and 2:21ff. will show that the works being considered are not those of the ritual law, which were the works Paul opposed, but the merciful deeds of charity that 2:13 has already suggested” (120). In this light, Davids views James as attacking those who may wish to separate faith and works. James’ “contrast is clear: no works, no faith” (125). By moving to attack a “demonic monotheism” in verse 19, James reduces the argument of his opponents to absurdity. As Davids writes, “A faith which cannot go beyond this level is worse than useless” (126).
Finally, Davids explores James’ reason for selecting Abraham and Rahab as the two illustrations for his “faith that works” polemic. They were prime Old Testament examples of hospitality and charity, which addressed the primary matters at issue in the congregations to whom James was writing. The suffering of the poor believers required a response of charity and hospitality. True, saving faith should have been responding in this way in the contemporary situation. Under these considerations, we can learn from the Reformation rally cry of forensic justification—a judicial declaration and secure imputation of righteousness—that has set us free to love one another. The New Perspectives on Paul movement contributes the ecclesiological dimensions of justification—if you have become a member of the people of God, then you are marked, not by the marks of the old covenant, but by the marks of the new covenant. We are forgiven people indwelt by the Holy Spirit of promise, who awakens a kind of faith that works in love and hospitality in the believing community.
As we continue to study James in context, it is important to draw three distinctions: (1) the spiritual poverty of humanity, (2) the material poverty in the church, and (3) the material poverty in the world. James, Paul, and John primarily address the spiritual poverty of humanity and the material poverty in the church. Regarding the latter, the New Testament gives instructions to the church and the church leadership about how to care, encourage, and exhort the poor within the Christian community (e.g., Acts 2:42; 6; 2 Corinthians 8:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, 1 Timothy 5:3-8, 1 John 3:16-18). So, the instructions in Scripture provide clarity that should result in the alleviation of the suffering caused by material poverty among the members of the body of Christ – locally and globally. The believing Christian who has means should always be eager to aid his or her brothers and sisters who lack and who are oppressed.
It is in the material poverty of the world (outside the church), and in particular in the U.S.A., that we often feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and uncertain with regard to approaches, methods, and ministries. In a large part, I think there are two reasons for this. First, we encounter a lot of entitled people in the world. While we don’t find the word “entitled” in the Bible, we do see the attitude of entitlement addressed in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament and in the church through some of Scriptures shared above. Second, a large portion of our taxes go to government programs for the purpose of aiding the poor. In an online article entitled “Policy Basics: Where Do Our Federal Tax Dollars Go?” written by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on April 9, 2020, the Center demonstrates that 23% of the federal budget goes to Social Security, 25% goes to Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and marketplace subsidies to reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs for families, and 8% goes to safety net programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, other programs, and Supplemental Security Income like SNAP, school meals, low-income housing assistance, child care assistance, and aid for home energy bills. Therefore, the federal budget dedicates close to 56% of its spending to poverty relief.
Let me offer three actions items that are consistent with what we’re learning in James, consistent with the New Testament’s teaching as a whole, and consistent with our context as Americans. First, a Christian person and the Christian church must take care of their own first. This has applications for individual family members as we talked about on Sunday evening, and it has implications for local, national, and global fellowship in the body of Christ. Second, Christian people who are American citizens should bring good, pure, responsible, civil, and merciful stewardship thinking to American politics when it comes to poverty problems in our country. We should challenge politicians who perpetuate entitled attitudes and the programs, bring mercy to systems that neglect people who are stuck due to bad decision-making in the past, become ever-so sensitive to those who are poor indeed, and participate as taxpayers if we want to have an opinion about our country’s approach to poverty. Finally, always bring the blessing of a gospel-centered witness (evangelism and discipleship) to the economics of a lost world. We know that relationships healed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that place to start healing spiritual and material poverty.
Church, as always, thank you for allowing me to fill the pulpit and teach through the scriptures, I cherish those times. As you are aware, my style is not to teach through the scriptures with a feather and dance around the hard topics. But rather, read the word as it reads, challenging you even if it seems offensive. After all, if we are reading, believing, and following the Word as it is, it will be challenging and sometimes hard to hear.
As mentioned Sunday morning, the Gospel CANNOT be quarantined. I wanted to challenge you to have a sense of urgency to share the good news, knowing that there is only one way to eternal life (John 3:5; 14:6).
Jesus gave the command to Go and he led by example. From the moment Jesus began his ministry in Mark’s gospel we see his sense of urgency.
Mark 1:12- “IMMEDIATELY”- the spirit drove him to the wilderness to be tested. Jesus had to be tested before he started his ministry. So, the “spirit drove him out”.
1:14- John gets arrested. What did Jesus do? Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. He’s bold, he’s courageous, he’s passionate! He didn’t worry about what other people thought. He is on the front lines leading by example like leaders do. Sharing the truth of who he is, the Gospel!
1:16-18- Simon and Andrew leave their nets “at once” to follow Jesus. For what? To be fishers of men! Share the Gospel!
1:20- James and John, “Immediately” followed him to do what? Be fishers of men, share the Gospel!
1:21- They then went to the synagogue and began to teach! Why? Because unrighteous, unsaved people were in synagogues as well. There are regular church goers who need to hear the truth and genuinely follow Jesus!
1:30- Simon and Andrew “immediately” told Jesus about their sick mother. Why? Jesus has the power to heal! There is a faith involved that enables the healing power that only Christ can provide.
1:35- Jesus woke up early to pray. I love the example of having an urgency to start the day with prayer!
1:38- It reads, “let us go somewhere else- to nearby villages-so I can preach there also, that is why I have come.”
We see Jesus leading the charge of sharing the Gospel as he went town to town around the sea of Galilee (v. 39) proclaiming the good news of the Gospel. His disciples, and later the apostle Paul, among others, all had a sense of urgency to share this truth. Why? Because they knew the only way people could be transformed, delivered, set free and live eternally with God in heaven was through Jesus.
I wonder what about us? Do we share that same passion and zeal that you see in the scriptures? Do we live as if we truly understand the amazing sacrifice Christ made for us? Do we live with a desire to see God honored throughout the world? They could not keep what Jesus had done for us to themselves. My prayer is we live each day with that same attitude of gratitude.
The ancient writer Herodotus (c. 484–420 B.C.), known as “the Father of History,” described how the ancients lured an alligator, “There are many different ways of crocodile hunting; I will write of the way that I think most worth mentioning. The hunter baits a hook with a hog's back, and lets it float into the midst of the river; he himself stays on the bank with a young live pig . . . Hearing the squeals of the pig, the crocodile goes after the sound, and meets the bait, which it swallows; then the hunters pull the line. When the crocodile is drawn ashore (ἐξέλκω), first of all the hunter smears its eyes over with mud; when this is done, the [extraction] is very easily mastered—no light matter, without that.” In 1:13–15, James instructs that the sinful desires in each person seeks to transform a trial into a temptation that lures and entices in order to bring about death.
Yet, our God is “the Father of Lights”—constant and unchanging in his ability to give good and perfect gifts, gifts that are perfectly tailored for the trials we face. For the early Jewish Christian communities in James’ day, they faced internal community conflicts over economic disparities. If you recall, the apostles exhibited leadership in the context of economic disparities a number of times in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 2:45; 6:1; 1 Cor. 16:1–4). The new birth (James 1:18) is the foundational gift that God gives to counter sin’s temptation in the trials associated with economic clashes in the local church fellowship. Regeneration awakens the poor believer to hope and the rich believer to humility (1:9, 11) in light of the “eternal reversal” that awaits us all in the new heaven and new earth. The poor believer faces not only a financial poverty but oftentimes also a social and relational poverty (Ps. 34:18; 82:3; Amos 8:6). The Lord is exalted, and he is able to lift up the lowly (1 Chron. 14:2; Job 5:11). The rich believer must find glory in his or her humility and embrace dependence upon God. Remember the examples of Boaz, of Joseph, and most of all the Lord Jesus himself (Phil. 2:1–11). Although wealthy, these men lived lives that glorified God, used their great wealth, not as owners, but as stewards, and shared God’s heart to lift up the lowly to safety. Just as Christ and his gospel are the greatest treasure for the poor believer, so is new life in Christ the greatest treasure for the rich believer. As new creatures in Christ, we can experience restored relationships (Ephesians 2:11–22) and look forward to eschatological riches in the presence of the King (Rev. 21:22–22:5).
Caring for the economic disparities in the Christian community surfaces many complexities. However, James calls us to ask for wisdom and to endure through the trials, to let them perform their perfecting work, and to exercise a faith that stretches out over the years. Let’s begin by confessing the absolute necessity of the new birth, which is the one and only solution to combat the deathly threats of sin in the midst of trials. Having the new birth as our bedrock, let’s seek the Lord for effective fellowship in our community of believers, so that we can do excellent things for his glory as stewards of the spiritual and material resources, which he has entrusted to us.
At Legacy Ashland, we just finished our series on the book of Ruth. It was a fun book to go through, as you follow the lives of Naomi and Ruth. Their family faced tragedy, as Naomi lost her husband and both of her sons, all while living in a foreign country. Eventually, Naomi and Ruth come back to Jerusalem, Ruth finds a husband/kinsman redeemer to help carry on Naomi’s family name in Boaz. Ruth has a son after she couldn’t have a baby for ten years in her home country. It’s one big happy ending.
While this is a beautiful story, not everyone has a happy ending like that on this side of eternity. Not everyone who wants to get married ends up married. Not everyone that wants kids ends up with kids. When some people have kids, the kids are born with ailments or disabilities, or they even die in childhood. Some people commit to serving Christ with their lives and end up dying on the mission field.
While all of these things are true, there is another truth that surpasses all of these, and that truth is this: if Jesus rose from the dead, everything is gonna be okay. Yes, life is hard. Yes, we face suffering. Yes, we will struggle. But in the end, Jesus is going to come back and make everything right. He will take us to be with our Father for all of eternity, the only place where we will experience “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). While Jesus is not the way out of life’s storms, He is perfect security in them. If Jesus really rose from the dead, and He did, then everything is going to be okay. Love you church family!
- John Muncy
1 Peter 4:12-15
Church, thank you for welcoming me back to the pulpit with grace and love. My family has experienced much joy knowing we have a church family that truly “loves thy neighbor” (Mark 12:30-31; 1 John 4:21). In addition, we are grateful for those who are providing meal assistance during this transition to three children. As the guy currently in charge of cooking, these meals are like manna from heaven.
I want to remind each of you as you go throughout your week, trials will come your way. The question to ask is, “how will you respond?” Will you love God more or less through your trial? Or, will you give up and give in because that seems like the easier path? If needed, will you seek forgiveness from the Lord and those you sin against? Remember, Satan will use the things of this world as a vehicle to get to you. He doesn’t show up in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. 1 Peter 4:12-15 reminds us to not be surprised when trials come to test you. Satan’s goal is to take you down. You can’t control how or when trials, persecution and temptation come but you can control your response. You can choose to trust God and obey His Word or you can blame God for your problems and try to address the situation in your own way. You can allow God to work in and through you during your rough situation or you can turn from Him and sin.
I always think about Job and how he endured losing his possessions, his children and his health. He was tempted to “curse God and die,” as suggested by his own wife. He had a choice. In him we have an example of someone who made the right choice, to bless the name of the Lord even in the midst of suffering.
I think we can all agree that none of us have handled the trials of this life perfectly. Too often, we choose to condemn or throw stones at those who fall into sin, rather than love them through it. I heard someone once say, “Christians are the first ones to shoot their wounded!” Isn’t that true at times? Christ came for the sinner, to love the sinner, and when the sinner repents, Jesus forgives. Now all of us sinners can live eternally with Christ, in His fold (John 10), and can never be plucked out of His hand.
As we go through our upcoming week, is there someone you know that has experienced a trial in their walk with Christ? What can you do to help love and guide them through it? Said again another way, how can we be the church?
~ Jeremy Napier
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalms 90:12
The first part of my sermon would be to the ones I love. I would assure my family and friends of my faith in Christ which gives me eternal life. I would tell of the time I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I would describe the times God spoke to my heart about His love. I would give thanks for those who lived a Christian life before me. I would talk about my salvation experience and the miracle of His saving Grace. I would share bible verses that gave me assurance of my salvation.
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
1 John 5:11-13 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
I would tell of where I will be living. When I die, I will have a new address-Heaven. At death Christians depart from earth to go to be with the Lord. I would tell of how we would leave our bodies and move to heaven.
II Corinthians 5:8 , we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
I would tell of the place that Jesus is preparing for me.
John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Then I would tell of Heaven itself. Heaven is a place of music. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, Rev. 5:9 Heaven is a place of rest. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rev. 14:13 Heaven is a place of rejoicing let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory… Rev 19: 7 Heaven is a place of beauty. Rev. 21:10-23 Heaven is a place where Jesus is! Thus, says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; Isaiah. 66:1 And then I would appeal to the lost! For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
There would be an urgent appeal for all to be saved!!
I would teach sin as deadly and damming.
I would teach the love of Christ as warm and wonderful.
I would teach the Cross as full payment for our sins.
My last invitation would be long with tears -and pleading – My FINAL CALL! I would remind those that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION! Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. II Corinthians 6:2 And I would say to all unbelievers! Come to Jesus for your salvation day!
If this were my last sermon…Dave
This past Sunday I shared two important names of God. Elohim, meaning powerful/strong creator God, and Jehovah – Literal translation would be Yahweh, meaning self- revealing one or relational God. What we learned is Satan is ok with you talking about God as ELOHIM (this creator God) as long as you don’t bring in Jehovah (relational God). Said another way, Satan is ok with a little religion, as long as there is no relationship with God. Satan wants you to stand at the bottom of the mountain talking to Moses, just as we heard the Israelites were doing in Exodus 19.
My prayer is the Lord spoke to each of you through his Word. That you can stand in confidence, knowing that you GET to go directly to God and have a face to face relationship with Him. Why? Because of the sacrifice our LORD and savior made on the cross. As a result, the veil was torn (Matt. 27:51) and no chasm stands between us and God. You GET to go up the mountain and experience what Moses experienced! This is amazing!
My challenge for us as a church is to not stress ourselves out and worry about who our future pastor will be. After all, the next pastor, although ordained by God, is also a human; another created being. My final plea was to shift our focus on a holy, Jehovah God that is longing to have an intimate relationship with you. Maybe, in this season, as a body of believers, God is redirecting our eyes to be fixed on Him (Heb. 12:2), not man.
However, I have to warn you. if you choose to genuinely fix your eyes on Jesus, follow Jesus, and truly live as if He is living in you, then a spiritual battle lies in your path. Next week we will talk about this spiritual battle and how we are to respond as believers.
See you Sunday morning.
In Acts 21, Paul arrives in Caesarea and is staying at the house of Philip the evangelist. We pick up the narrative in verse 10: As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done.”
We have felt the same heaviness of heart as those with Paul in Caesarea when Steve was called to Tennessee last year and we now feel it once again with Jon being called to return to Georgia. We will have this experience many times in the future as pastors, youth pastors, and interns are called to minister to us for a season then are called to other ministries. As these situations occur may we not focus upon their leaving, instead may we focus on God’s blessing of bringing them into our lives. Therefore, we should offer words of encouragement and remark, “The will of the Lord be done”.
As we continue to move forward may we trust God for whom He will send next.
On that note, be sure to join us for Wednesday dinner as we show love to the Estes family. We will have a place where members can leave cards of encouragement and love for them.
Ecclesiastes 3:1—“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
According to National Geographic, “a season is a period of the year that is distinguished by special climate conditions.” I love the changing of the seasons. I love the snow in the Winter, the flowers in the Springtime, the sunshine in the Summer and the colorful leaves in the Fall. But along with the beauty of every changing season, there comes new challenges. With snow, comes freezing temperatures...and ice storms. With flowers, come allergies. With sunshine, comes sunburn. With the beauty of the leaves falling, comes the labor of cleaning them up. These challenges many times cause you to either remember the previous season or long for the next, which is probably the reason why most Myrtle Beach vacations are booked in the wintertime. If 100 people were asked, “Which season is your favorite and why,” then 100 different reasons would be given. Some seasons we embrace, while other seasons we endure. In a world full of so many unpredictable changes, the one thing that has remained consistent is the changing of the seasons.
However, these are not the “seasons” that Solomon is speaking about in Ecclesiastes 3:1. Solomon is helping the reader understand that within your life, there are many changing seasons that are appointed by God. Even if you live in the same house, in the same town, or go to the same church your entire life, there are still seasons of change in your life. Many times, the joys or challenges of every season cause you to either embrace it or endure it. If your heart is not contently waiting on the Lord, you will find yourself longing for the past or chasing after “what is next.” Teenagers can’t wait to move out of their parents’ house. College students can’t wait to be married. Young parents can’t wait for the day that they no longer have to change diapers. Parents can’t wait to be “empty-nesters,” while empty- nesters long for their kids to be home. The key to every season is to trust that God has a unique purpose for this season of your life. Rest in Him. Be content with where you are, for God is at work. Even within the challenges of life, one day you may long for the opportunity to go back to this stage of life. In the words of Andy Bernard on the hit show, The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you're in ‘the good old days,’ before you've actually left them.”
As Brandi and I come to the end of this season, we will cherish the memories of our home, of this town, and of this church family. Though there were many challenges, we rejoice in all that God has done in our lives and through our lives. I am deeply thankful for this season of life. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21)
Beginning on Sunday, May 11th, Rex Howe will serve as our Interim Pastor and will be preaching for our Sunday Morning services at both First Baptist Church of Kenova and Legacy Church Huntington. He will also be teaching at our Sunday Night Bible Study at Kenova. As a Council of Shepherds, we wanted to share with our church family a little bit about his family, his education and his experience.
Wife: Aimee Howe
Kiddos: Delainey, Betsy, and Mack Howe
Wheelersburg High School (2000)
Tri-State Bible College B.A. in Bible/Theology (2006)
Dallas Theological Seminary ThM in New Testament Studies (2011)
Currently a Post Graduate Research Student in the School of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (2020 - present)
Youth Pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Minford, OH (2003-2007)
Pastor of Youth and Outreach at Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas, TX (2007-2015)
Senior Pastor at West Lisbon Church in Newark, IL (2015-2020)
CSNTM Summer Expedition Team at the National Library in Athens, Greece (2016)
Sixth President Tri-State Bible College (2020-Present)
What a year! I think we can all agree that as brothers and sisters in Christ, our faith and our ability to fully trust in the Lord has been tested.
I would like to speak to you first on being the minister of Pastoral Care. It has been an incredibly challenging time for me in this ministry. I have been shut out of all the hospitals, nursing homes and have not been able to even make any home visits. I have had hesitation to visit very many in the hospitals for fear of taking a family members place as the sole visitor for the day. If you’ve had a loved one or you yourself have been hospitalized, you know the emotional toll it has taken by not being able to have loved ones close by. With in-home visits, I also have been met with the fear of spreading the virus. However, good news!
We are starting to see fewer and fewer cases and deaths from the virus. Covid restrictions are beginning to be lifted and more freedoms are being experienced by all. I believe we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As a minister of Pastoral Care, I vow to always love on you and always care for you. As the restrictions are released, I will always do my best to take care of your needs in visiting and comforting. I will continue to pray for you because God has revealed to me, that His people are hurting right now. Even if we haven’t been able to physically be present with one another, God is still our God and through our prayers, He is able to grant peace, comfort and healing as He chooses.
Now as a shepherd, I would like to speak to you from my heart. We have never had to lead a church under these circumstances, nor did we know how to lead in a pandemic. There have never been any books written about it and we have all been in uncharted territory.When we were faced with Steve’s plans on leaving, we thought that he would be able to be around and help with the transition. Due to circumstances beyond his control, our beloved pastor of over 20 years had to leave. After the early times of Covid hitting, things changed rapidly and the “two-week virus” became an ongoing illness.
As shepherds we had to make many tough decisions and may not have always made the right call. We would even like to perhaps have some “do overs”. However, I am convinced that after prayerful consideration and knowing the information that we had at the time, that we made sound decisions bathed in love. With everything in me, I can honestly say that we as shepherds have never stopped seeking the Lord’s will and praying for God’s Grace upon us. I can assure you that your shepherds love you the flock!
After the early times of Covid hitting, things changed rapidly and the “temporary virus” became a life changing illness that literally crippled the Lord’s churches on a national level. God’s people and His church weren’t allowed to fellowship, love on one another and at times it even had us all home bound completely isolating us from our loved ones and our church family.
Many decisions had to be made quickly and we went from planning a farewell ceremony for Steve to filling a pulpit immediately. Steve had been our faithful pastor for over 20 years and goodbyes were even left unsaid. Jon was God’s servant during this time and stepped up to fill many voids. We will be forever grateful for his service and love for us!
Recently I was able to start my Sunday School class back up and I cannot even begin to tell you the joy of seeing each face that was there and the fellowship that we had! It is wonderful to see God’s people just loving on God’s people! Just being surrounded and feeling the Lord’s presence in person with one another has been something I will never take for granted again. What a blessing.
Through it all, as shepherds, again I will say and just want to make this clear to you, we have never stopped caring for you,
We have never stopped praying for you, and we have never stopped loving you!
With that being said, are you ready for some hope? Well, the Lord has provided for us once again! With a joyful heart, I am so excited to announce that we have a new interim pastor coming! His name is Rex Howe and he will begin teaching and preaching on the first Sunday in May. He comes highly recommended and will be with us through the summer. He is not a candidate for the full time Lead pastor’s position, however our search committee is diligently working to fill that position as well. Thank you, church for being ever so faithful!
God knows our hearts and hears our prayers so let’s cry out to Him during these times.
After months of earnest prayer and careful consideration, Brandi and I have confidence that God is directing our family to accept the call to return to the pastoral ministry of Henry Baptist Church in McDonough, GA. Over the course of the last year, through all the ups and downs, we sought to faithfully preach the Word and minister to the flock of God, and not one time did we seek to leave our post. Without seeking for a new job placement, or without sending a resume to potential ministry positions, we resolved in our hearts to serve the Lord where He placed us until He would lead us away in His time. It has been our constant desire NOT to “leave” this season of life and ministry, but rather to “be led.” As we were careful to be about the ministry at hand, we sensed that our time was coming to an end in our current ministry. At the same time, our former church (at which we served for 11 years) inquired about the potential of us returning to serve as a Pastor, while helping to launch a plant church.
We have accepted the call to return to Henry Baptist Church in McDonough, GA. We have constantly assured the leadership and congregation that our resignation has no correlation to past or future pastoral candidates and their timelines or any on-going issues of division among the flock. In our hearts, we have a deep and abiding love for the people of our church.
As a word of thanksgiving, I am personally grateful for the investment that you, as a church family, have poured into my life. You have entrusted me with innumerable opportunities to grow as a leader and pastor, for which I will continue to faithfully steward. I have greatly benefited from my time on staff at FBC Kenova and Legacy Church Huntington. Through the deeply challenging trials of the past year, a number of people have approached me asking, “Would you have come to FBC Kenova if you knew all that would take place?” To which I would respond that I believe wholeheartedly that God had brought us to FBC Kenova BECAUSE of all that would take place. As Brandi and I have mourned over the close of this season of life and ministry, our hearts swell with sweet memories of the gracious and godly people from our church family.
As a word of encouragement, I carry a great confidence that God has this church family right where He wants her. You have NOT been abandoned. The One who loved His church so much that He purchased her with His own blood is ever present with you in these days. It is He who loves this church more than you do. Follow Him.
Humbly grateful, Jonathan A. Estes
While meditating and preparing to preach on the Lord’s Supper this past Sunday, I personally came across the teaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon on 1st Corinthians 11 that stirred my heart to the urgency of remembering His death until He comes. This excerpt was far too long to be quoted within the Sunday Morning sermon, however, I found this to be a very appropriate venue to share with our church family. This is an excerpt from a message that Spurgeon preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England on Sunday, June 4th, 1882. Take time to meditate on these reflections on the Lord’s Supper...
“The fact that this ordinance is to be observed, in remembrance of him “until he come,” is a humbling proof that, till that glorious event, his peoples’ memories will be faulty, and they will need this double forget-me-not to remind them of him who is their All-in-all.”
“What do I see on that table? I see bread there. Then I gather this humbling lesson, — that I cannot even keep myself in spiritual food. I am such a pauper, such an utter beggar, that my own table cannot furnish me with what I want, and I must come to the Lord’s table, and I must receive, through him, the spiritual nutriment which my soul requires. What do I see in the cup? I see the wine which is the token of his shed blood; what does that say to me but that I still need cleansing? Oh, how I rejoice in that blessed text in John’s first Epistle: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another”! And then what follows? That we do not need to make any more confession of sin, because we are quite cleansed from it? Nothing of the sort; “and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” We still need the cleansing fountain even when we are walking in the light, as God is in the light; and we need to come to it every day. And what a mercy it is that the emblem sets forth the constant provision of purifying blood whereby we may be continually cleansed! As we partake of this cup, we must do so humbly, for thus it becometh us to come to the table of our Lord.”
“There are some, we are told, who do not discern the Lord’s body; let us think, and pray, lest we should be numbered with them...Think of what your Savior suffered for you, what he has done for you, and what he has gone to prepare for you. Let us remember that the bread sets forth the suffering of his body, that the wine typifies the blood of the atonement whereby we are cleansed...Think much at the table, but think of nothing but Christ. Fix your thoughts entirely upon him, and so shall you eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, to your soul’s refreshment and profit.”
“But come, also, with great receptiveness. It is a meal, you know; we receive the bread and the wine. So, come to the table begging the Lord to give you the grace to feed upon himself spiritually, that you may, by faith, receive him into your inward parts; that, in your inmost soul, you may have the virtue of his life and of his death. Come empty, therefore; for so you will be the better qualified to feed upon him. Come hungering and thirsting; thus you will have the greater appetite for Christ. Receive him in all his fulness, by wonderful faith that takes him in to be a joy to the heart forever.”
The church vote was 95% to call the candidate as pastor. After much prayer and counsel, the candidate has declined the call. He said he was pleased with the vote, loved the people, enjoyed the service and question and answer sessions; even that he wanted to want to come here. But he just didn’t feel the peace of God about coming. He wanted to emphasize that there wasn’t an issue or something that needed to be different. He was just trying to follow the Lord’s leading.
I have to admit when I first heard the decision, I was disheartened and I honestly did not see it coming. I felt for sure he was the right person and it was who I wanted.
But as a church, we have been praying for who God wanted. Through my interactions with others after hearing the decision, God has reminded me 1. He is sovereign 2. He is good. 3. He is faithful and 4. We should be thankful in all circumstances.
So please join me in being thankful for this decision and let’s draw closer to God in our disappointment. Let’s let Him lead us and we continue to follow.
Thanks to our church family. It was obvious this weekend why you are so special. Let’s keep loving each other and trusting God.
To God be the glory.
Hello Church Family!
We are about to go through an exciting time of transition all across First Baptist Kenova and the Legacy Church network. As a part of this season of change and transition, FBCK’s tech team is beginning to transition our live-streams away from Facebook. There are lots of technical reasons behind this change, but the main one is to reduce our dependence on Facebook.
Each time we stream our services on Facebook, we are subjected to Facebook’s Community Guidelines. We’re concerned that our streams and services could be removed for teaching biblical principles that differ from Facebook’s standards. This hasn’t been an issue for FBCK yet, but we want to be ahead of the curve and proactive in this area.
Over the next few Sundays, FBCK’s tech team will transition our streams to be hosted on YouTube. YouTube will allow us to privately stream to our church members and will allow for a much better viewing experience for those who continue to worship online. Our services will continue to be streamed on our website (fbckenova.com) as well.
We will continue to simultaneously stream on Facebook and YouTube for a few more weeks to allow the transition to take place. Our team will make sure no one gets left behind. We will make instructional videos to assist the technology-challenged, but we’ve tested this solution with our grandma’s, and they found it easier than the current method.
We are looking forward to this change, and the increased quality of our live-streamed services. Our tech team and pastoral staff have many BIG things in the works (podcasts, videos, music), but this is the first step. We can’t wait to share this content with our church family and to those outside the church!
--FBCK Tech Team
The Search Committee is very excited to have reached this stage to present a candidate to the church body. We are all humbled by the faith our congregation has placed in the committee by electing us to represent you in this capacity. We took this responsibility very seriously and did not come to this recommendation lightly.
We had one goal in mind and that was to find who God wanted. We set the bar high and were looking for someone who had lead pastor experience of a large congregation, advanced education, heart for discipleship/mentoring, heart for missions, experience in a multi-site church, expositional preaching, proper doctrine, ability to teach the Word, experience with participating on a council of Shepherds and did not have a pattern of only short-term assignments.
We examined nearly 200 applicants, 183 to be exact! After reviewing resumes, we conducted surveys to review basic doctrine and past experience. We then spent hours upon hours listening to sermons from the leading candidates. We then conducted multiple remote interviews with remaining candidates. We performed reference checks and sent the finalists to the shepherds to conduct in-depth doctrine evaluations consisting of multiple hours and multiple meetings. We then brought a couple of candidates to the tri-state for in-person meetings.
From all that, we are amazed at what God has done. As we look back at the original list, EVERY box is checked with the candidate we are presenting. God is good and He is faithful!
Here is some additional information about our candidate. His stated objective is, “To glorify God by walking in obedience to His call and using the gifts that He has given me in the role of Shepherding the Flock of God.”
Education: Double majored in Speech Communications and the Bible for undergrad and received his Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Family: Married with 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. His sons are both called into full-time ministry. His two daughters are stay-at-home moms, one married to a pastor and the other to a football coach at a Christian School.
Job History: Started as a Minister of Music, but quickly transitioned to the role of Senior Pastor. Served at three churches, showing growth at all three before answering a call to the mission field and serving in Uganda, East Africa for two years. For family reasons, he returned to the states and pastored a church for 7 years, showing strong growth again. Then he felt called to plant a church where he has been serving for the past 15 years, having grown it from 3 people to over 400 with multiple campus locations.
While we share his impressive resume, in a sense it doesn’t say anything about who he is. From the many meetings we have had with him, we know he is very humble and gracious. I am confident that he would emphasize that he does not claim nor deserve any of the glory. It is all Christ!
We want you to get to know him and his wife. Please join us Saturday, February 27th for Q&A opportunities to meet the individual that we believe God is calling to serve in our church body in the role of Senior Pastor. Times are 1:30pm at Huntington Legacy and 6:30pm at Kenova. The pastor will also preach in both Kenova and Huntington on Sunday, February 28th. We will have a business meeting to vote to affirm the call following each service.
The search committee announced Sunday that there has been a candidate selected to present to the church for a vote to call him as pastor. Out of respect for his current congregation, we are not releasing his name publicly at the moment. We are very excited and believe the candidate will be a great fit for us. The candidate has been in ministry since 1985 and has faithfully served in various roles including Minister of Music, Senior Pastor, Missionary, and Church Planter. He has been willing to serve wherever God has called him. He has experience serving in a multi-campus church model and believes strongly in expositional preaching staying true to the Word. We are still working out the exact scheduling for his visit, but we are planning on the weekend of February 21st to present him to the congregation. This will include opportunities to meet with him and his wife for some Q&A as well as he will be preaching the sermons that morning at Kenova and Huntington. Keep praying church! We are excited to see God moving.
--The Search Committee
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!!! The Legacy Church network is hosting a Marriage Conference on February 19th-20th at the Legacy Huntington Campus. This is going to be a wonderful time of fellowship, food, and practical marriage advice for folks all over the tri-state to help our families stay strong and together amidst challenging times.
Covid, Quarantines, and the losses of some of our civil liberties have taken a toll on husbands and wives nationwide as the number of couples filing for divorce in the past year has increased by over 30%. Therefore our church wanted to do something to help families in the tri-state learn about God’s design for marriage because raising children is hard, managing finances for a family is hard, and living in an ever changing world riddled by sin is hard.
So our hope is that this conference would be a truly refreshing time for people to come together, to invite friends, and to learn how to combat the many challenges that married couples deal with today. Those of you who are single are also more than welcome to come. We want people to be well educated on the joys and challenges of marriage whether they are married or not.
Tickets will be $25/couple & $10/single. Childcare will be provided on Friday evening (6pm-8:30pm) as well as dinner for couples and their children. On Saturday (9:30am-12pm) there will be no childcare but there will be breakfast provided.
This conference will seek to unpack how to wisely communicate with your spouse, how to not let children overcome your marriage, and how to carefully manage your finances in order to care for one another well. We hope you’ll consider attending. Tickets will be available this Sunday at church.
I have been recently thanking God for the opportunity to serve in His Kingdom. It reminded me of a lesson I learned many years ago.
Do you remember the account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17? David is about to make a presentation to Saul, the King of Israel, as to why he is the likely candidate to fight this giant, Goliath, and ultimately determine the fate of the nation of God. If David loses this battle the nation of God will become slaves to the Philistines and effectively alter history as we know it. This is a big deal. And all Saul knows about David is that he can play the harp pretty well and that he feeds and shepherds sheep. This is NOT an impressive resume for killing a Giant and saving an entire nation. But we know he kills the Giant and saves the nation, so whatever he says must have been pretty convincing. So, what does he say? Here is the opening line of David’s speech, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. Are you kidding me?!!! that’s the opening line of David’s speech???? Surely Saul is not going to be convinced by this. But David goes on to say “Whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and rescued the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed lions and bears; this Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” Then David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
I learned in my first ministry position as a Youth Pastor that God’s training ground for his people is the same as it was thousands of years ago in David’s day. IT’S SHEPHERDING!! Caring for the flock. When you lay down your life for the flock, God will teach you (as he did David) how to fight his battles and he will deliver you from lions, bears, and even giants. You will learn to trust in His provision, His protection, and His providence.
For more on this, read John 21:15-19.
If you have ever attended a live sporting event, you have likely witnessed first-hand one of the most entertaining aspects of any such event: The Dance Cam! For those of you who have no clue what a “Dance Cam” is, let me fill you in. During a break in the action on the field, the media team will blare a popular, upbeat song on the loudspeakers, while the camera crew scans the audience for people who are wholeheartedly dancing. Every person in the audience is captivated by what is on the Big Screen, as person after person steps into the limelight to make a complete fool of themselves in front of 10’s of thousands of people. Some of these people can actually dance, but the entertainment value goes through the roof when they feature people who are painfully embarrassing. It’s like the saying, “nobody wants to see a car accident, but when it’s happening, you can’t take your eyes off of it.” It is so bad that you can’t help but watch.
When a person is without natural inhibition and is willing to act like a fool in public, it catches the attention of people everywhere. As we began our study in the book of 1st Corinthians this past Sunday, we saw that not only is the message of the cross foolishness to those in this world who do not believe in Jesus, but also the messengersthemselves appear to be foolish. God has chosen the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, and has even chosen the low and despised things of this world. God has set the stage, so that as He demonstrates His glory and power through the life of a believer, no human being can boast about themselves. We are the nothings that God has chosen to bring Himself glory. In this world, we are nothing but fools for Christ.
Inevitably at these sporting events, the Dance Cam will capture a person who had indulged in excess of what many refer to as “liquid courage,” and because of this, there is absolutely no inhibition. I’m reminded of the words of Paul to the church of Ephesus when he wrote, “do not get drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18) Paul is using the example of a drunk person to compare and contrast the influence of the Holy Spirit. The implication is to not be a fool who is under the influence of alcohol, but instead, be a fool for Christ who is under the influence of the Spirit of God. When a man is controlled by the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a boldness that is not natural. Let us be fools who are uninhibited to preach Jesus!
My kids and I have challenged each other to read the Bible in a year (so many great reading plans). Part of each of the initial days guides you through Genesis, hence the motivation for this message. We have all heard of and most likely read (multiple times) the account of Noah, but have you done the math?
Genesis 5 gives the genealogy of Adam to Noah. Verses 25-27 tells us that Methuselah fathered Lamech at age 187, then lived 782 more years (969 total). Verse 28-31 tells us that Lamech fathered Noah at age 182, then lived 595 more years (777 total).
Methuselah: 969-187-182=600 years alive since birth of Noah.
Lamech: 777-182=595 years alive since birth of Noah.
Genesis 7:6 tells us that Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. Is anyone following yet? The Bible does not tell us exactly how long it took to build the Ark but based upon Noah having 3 sons starting at age 500 and the time for them to be old enough to get married, the minimum years of construction was 20-40 years. Even with just 20 years, this tells me that Noah had 20 years with Methuselah and 15 years with Lamech before the flood came that God told him about. Why do we not hear about the 15-20 years? Was Noah in his “righteous bubble”?
Fast-forward 4,500+ years. We know that death (physical) is eminent, and that eternity is eminent, why are we not showing more love to our own family? We know that a physical death will lead to eternity in Heaven or an eternity in hell. Do we love even our own family enough to pray for them daily? Do we love them enough to share the Gospel often? Are we afraid of hurting our relationship with them more than we are of them spending eternity in hell?
Witnessing to our family is an expression of our love for them. May the Lord give us more love for our family members than for ourselves. And be reminded, Jesus does the saving, we need to be faithful to share the Good News! (further read at thankfulhomemaker.com “The most difficult people to witness to: your family”
I grew up “in church,” from the moment I came out of my mother’s womb to the time I crossed the stage at graduation. The entire time that I was under the roof of my father, I had no vote in the matter. If it was Sunday or Wednesday, we were there. For this reason, I cannot count the number of times that I heard the appeal of the Gospel. Every time a preacher would ask the question, “Do you know where you will spend eternity,” I would shudder at the thought of spending eternity in hell. Though I had prayed the sinner’s prayer at the age of 5, I was constantly plagued with fear, constantly questioning if “the prayer” really worked! Because of this, I prayed 100 times hoping that one of the prayers would count.
It wasn’t until my Junior year of high school that I realized that I was trusting in “a prayer,” hoping it would work, rather than believing and trusting in Jesus Himself. The words of John began to make perfect sense to me when he said in John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” You are not born-again because you were born into a Christian family who went to church faithfully...or as John said, “not of blood.” You are not born-again by the “will of your flesh,” or because you decided one day that you wanted to be saved (like the constant story of my child). Your flesh is very motivated to respond when it is scared to death of hell. The best that your flesh can do is urgently seek for a way to get out of going to hell, but it cannot motivate you to trust in Christ. On top of all that, you are not born- again because someone else had a burning desire for you to be saved...or as John said, not by “the will of man.” Whether it is a pastor who is over- zealously trying to get people saved, or a parent who is over-motivated to get their family saved, man is powerless to manipulate people to truly be born-again. The best that man can do is manipulate people to say the “sinner’s prayer.” But understand, you must be born-again “of God” in order to be truly saved!
So, what are YOU trusting in? Have you used the Gospel as a “fire-escape” to get you out of going to hell or have you trusted in the blood of Jesus to draw you into an eternal relationship with the God who created you?
2020 has been a struggle! There has been an abundance of division, isolation, and even depression. There have been many times that the trials of a day may cause even the elect to question if Jesus really is sovereignly in control. We have all experienced (or are experiencing) some form of grief, fear, or doubt. We, as a people, are not emotionally healthy right now. This Christmas season just feels different...less people are singing for joy, less families are gathering to celebrate, and less presents are being gifted. To top it off, if there is a smile of encouragement, it is hidden behind our face coverings. The struggle feels both personal and universal.
This past week, as I was preparing to preach through the resurrection story in John 20, I personally observed something that I had never previously thought about. It may have been spurred on because of the constant trials of 2020, but nonetheless, it deeply ministered to me. As we worked through the passage, I noticed that John recorded three specific people to whom the resurrected Jesus personally revealed Himself...Mary Magdalene, the Disciples, and Thomas. Out of the 500+ followers of Jesus who encountered the resurrected Christ, John specifically chose to feature the stories of these three. Digging a little deeper, we saw that each of these three were struggling with overwhelming feelings brought on by fiery trials.
Mary Magdalene had just lost her dear friend and only hope, as Jesus was crucified on a criminal’s cross. Running to the tomb early in the morning to anoint Jesus’ earthly body, she experienced what she perceived to be another loss. She was overwhelmed with GRIEF, thinking that grave robbers had stolen the body of Jesus.
The Disciples had just followed Jesus for 31⁄2 years. To conclude their time with Jesus, they heard Him say, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) As the disciples replayed the events of the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, they were crippled in overwhelming FEAR, understanding that what had happened to Jesus, could happen to them.
Doubting Thomas could hardly believe that Jesus showed Himself to be physically alive. Certainly, Jesus could have shown Himself to be a “ghost” in spirit form, but not a man. With overwhelming DOUBT (or maybe realism), Thomas needed to touch the resurrected Jesus to believe that He physically rose from the dead. He, too, was likely traumatized by the events of the previous Friday afternoon, and was shell-shocked and gun-shy to trust the word of His fellow disciples.
How did Jesus minister to these three? How does Jesus minister to those who are struggling with GRIEF, FEAR, and DOUBT? If we look at Jesus’ response, we see that He didn’t withdraw from them or reject them because of their struggles; He pursued them in their struggles. Also, He didn’t remove the trial to ease their GRIEF, calm their FEARS or eliminate their DOUBT. Mary still didn’t have physical presence of her friend and the Disciples were still running for their lives. He did something far greater; He showed Himself alive. He helped them to see that He has defeated the grave and that the temporary trials of this life cannot rob us of the joy of eternal hope! Take courage this Christmas season, my brothers and sisters—Jesus is powerfully alive in 2020. Let the trials of this past year drive you to the resurrected Christ this Christmas season!
Have you ever heard of Clement Moore? Most today have not, but I bet you’ve heard of a poem he wrote for his children many years ago.
“Twas the night before Christmas. The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”
While we may have forgotten much about this Seminary Professor, our culture has not forgotten the words he left behind as we all await the exciting day to celebrate Christmas.
There is a key principle for us to take away from this observation. While people may sometimes be forgotten from the memory of culture, the actions and words we leave behind are often not.
The Christmas season is one that is built on many traditions. The hanging of stockings by the fireplace began when St. Nicholas used to toss gold coins into the homes of the poor and often the coins would land in shoes & socks drying over the fireplace.
The Christmas Tree tradition began with Protestant Reformer Martin Luther putting candles in a tree to remind his children of the lights in the sky in Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth
Today much more has been added to the festivities of Christmas including movies, music, parades, & shopping among many others.
But all of these fun traditions are meaningless if we don’t reflect and consider the meaning and purpose of the baby in the manger. As the angel told the Shepherds many years ago,
I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. - Luke 2:10-11
This truth, that God came down to live among us, to display righteousness for us, and to provide justice for us on the cross is the foundation of Christmas. This truth is what we will be celebrating at our Christmas Eve service. This service will look different than in previous years, but the One we worship will never change.
Luke 2:13-14 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (good will toward men)
Isaiah 9:6 ...his name shall be called….Prince of Peace
Both Isaiah and the Angels associate Jesus with peace, yet Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace, but a sword”. How can He be the Prince of Peace yet say that He’s not here to bring peace? So many times in Jesus' life people couldn’t understand. One time the leaders asked Jesus when the kingdom was coming? He answered, it’s here already but not how you perceive it to be. Even Mary, a close friend, misunderstood Jesus about her brother Lazarus being raised from the dead, she thought one day it would happen but Jesus said, “I am the resurrection”.
The leaders were looking for a physical kingdom, Mary was looking for a future resurrection.
What about you? When it comes to peace, where do you look for it? Do you look in the world? Or do you assume it will come in the future one day?
Eph 2:13-16 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility..
Jesus is himself our peace, he’s the one who kills the hostility between us and God. He does it by the blood of his body on the cross.
Rom. 5:1 - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Col. 1:19,20 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
With Jesus, its not on the outside. It’s on the inside.
“Every problem that our church has ever faced can be traced back to a lack of love.” – John MacArthur
Over the last 6 months, I have been in constant conversation with a number of pastors (both locally and nationally) concerning how they are choosing to respond during this international pandemic. Ironically, every pastor is wrestling with the same few questions! Do we meet in-person or exclusively online? Do we continue our weekly ministries, or do we only meet on Sunday mornings? What should we do if Covid-19 begins to spread throughout our church? While pastors seek to lead their congregations in the direction that they believe to be most prudent, they are constantly bombarded with differing opinions.
Arguably, the one question that seems to cause the most division among the church is “to mask or not to mask?” More specifically, should we “mandate” the wearing of masks or only “strongly encourage” it? If the government mandates the wearing of masks, should the church do so accordingly? To some, if the church DOES NOT mandate the wearing of masks during church gatherings, then the leadership is deemed to be morally careless and complicit and are ultimately encouraging the spread of viral infection. These people would say that we are morally obligated by Romans 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities” of our land—for the one who “resists the authorities, resists what God has appointed.” To others, if the church DOES mandate the wearing of masks, church leadership (like the government) is over-stepping constitutional rights by forcing people to actions that are arguably ineffective and unlawfully dictated. They would argue that the government can’t force people to wear masks because of their inability to constitutionally enforce it, nullifying the argument that it is wrong to “resist.” Afterall, is it the church’s responsibility to enforce what the government has mandated, if the government itself can’t legally enforce what it mandated? Even as you read this article, you likely have a strong opinion one way or the other.
In 1st Corinthians 8, Paul introduced us to an issue of dissension that was brewing within the church of Corinth. In that day, there were great Pagan worship services where animals were sacrificed on altars to the Greek “gods.” After the worship service, the meat that was on the altar was free for the taking. It was a free BBQ for the whole town! Many believers had no moral problem with eating meat that was previously sacrificed on the altars of Pagan gods, while others were passionately against it. In verse 8, Paul reminded the church that they were “worse off if they do not eat, and no better off if they do” because it would not change their standing with God. Then he wrote these words that I believe can loosely apply to our situation: “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” Paul went so far to imply that if we willfully and openly choose to act in such a way that violates the conscience of a weaker brother, Paul says that we “sin against Christ.” So who, within the mask debate, is the “weaker brother?” Those who think it’s morally wrong to not wear a mask or those who think it’s morally wrong to mandate the wearing of masks?
Being aware of differing opinions, our Shepherds and Staff have met on a weekly basis and deliberated for hours and hours concerning a course of action. Over the last 6 months, we have maintained a position of “strongly encouraging” every person to wear a mask, ultimately placing the responsibility of enforcing a mask mandate squarely on the shoulders of Governor Jim Justice. A person who chose not to wear a mask in our services would not be banned from worship. Recently, as we began to see an increase in the confirmed Covid-19 cases in our congregation, we felt an urgency to increase our word of caution and proceeded this week to mandate the wearing of masks. This decision was celebrated by many from within our congregation, while strongly repulsing many others. Today, after much prayer and discussion, we have collaborated together to issue a statement concerning our course of action moving forward. We are not ignoring the mandates of our government, nor are we enforcing these mandates, understanding that it is not our prerogative to enforce governmental mandates. Instead, we are strongly encouraging you to seek how best to personally fulfill the words of Jesus in John 13:34 when He said, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” It is by Jesus’ example that we should “count others more significant than ourselves,” not looking after our own interests, “but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) For this is the way that the world will know that we are His disciples, “if we have love for one another.” (John 13:35) As you read the following statement, prayerfully consider how you can personally love your brother or sister as yourself!
“The leadership at First Baptist Church of Kenova implores all members of the church to keep yourselves, your family, and your neighbors as healthy as possible. Please take every precaution that you deem necessary, reasonable and responsible to remain healthy: both physically, mentally, and above all, spiritually.”
What is a patriot? According to the English Dictionary, a patriot is “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interest.” The word itself originated long before America was even a country. A deeper look into the origin of this word reveals that in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was considered an insult to be called a patriot in French, English and Latin-speaking countries. In those cultures, if you were a patriot, you were a “factious disturber of government.” This is why, during the Revolutionary War, the British government referred to the military in the colonies of America as “patriots.” It was a social term of ridicule. But to an American, to be a patriot was honorable. Those first American soldiers refused to submit to the bondage and taxation of the British government and gave their lives to fight for freedom for generations to come.
To this day, the word “patriot” stirs up a sense of thankfulness and pride for so many in our country. I have never worn military boots or camouflage. I have never fought in any wars. However, from my early years of childhood, I was taught to stand as soldiers passed by in a parade, to put my hand on my heart when the National Anthem was sung and was even taught the proper etiquette for handling the American flag. In a sense, I am a patriot. With all of her faults and failures, I love my country. I take pride in the steps of faith and courage that our forefathers displayed which made our country what it is today. I am thankful for my heritage, having had a grandfather who was a prisoner of war in a German concentration camp during World War 2. I’m thankful for all those who have put their lives on the line for the freedoms that I enjoy today. God has blessed our nation in so many ways.
Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people who He has chosen for His own inheritance.” This is truly a powerful statement that I would love to claim as the motto for the USA. However, I’m afraid that we have misinterpreted the context of this verse. We have made the assumption that our blessing is due to the fact that we are a “Christian nation.” In the context of this passage, the psalmist was expressing joy over being a part of God’s elect people, namely Israel. So many read this verse differently: “America is blessed because God is the Lord of America.” During his campaign for presidency on June 28th, 2006, Barack Obama was originally blasted by conservative and evangelical political groups for presenting this quote: “whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation—at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindi nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” Though it is difficult to accept, President Obama spoke the truth. It is sobering.
God’s Word says in Psalm 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” It also says in Isaiah 60:12, that “the nation and kingdom that will not serve God will perish.” Though the foundation of our homeland is crumbling, we don’t mourn as people who do not have hope. You may be a “patriot.” You may love America. You may even defend her. But understand, America is not our home, for we are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom. Let this be your prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, in America as it is in heaven.”
Four weeks ago, I had a lapse in judgment, I allowed sports to hinder my son’s honoring of the Lord’s Day. Asher was recruited to play goalie for a traveling soccer team. I was assured that games were mostly on Saturday and practices through the week. We had our first game in September on a Saturday, he and the team played great. There was a tournament coming up on October 4th, a Sunday, and there was a lot of pressure for him to play (as they desperately needed a goalie). There was not youth group that evening (Unity night), and he was going to be able to attend 1st service then had a ride to play afternoon games near Bridgeport. As I reluctantly submitted, I found out Saturday evening that the first game Sunday got moved up. This meant that my son would not be able to attend worship service the following morning. My stomach is in knots as I share my poor decision, but rest assured the Lord has convicted my heart.
I know that most young families with children in sports, there are many times that we feel pressured to “show up” and be a part of the team on a Wednesday evening, Sunday morning or Sunday evening. There is no biblical mandate about Wednesdays, but as we have allowed our culture to steal that time, it only comes to reason that the Lord’s day is compromised.
Before closing, I feel compelled to share a choice many of us have made (that makes my stomach queasy). I understand that there are many people that have not returned to “church” on Sundays since reopening the doors May 24th. Many are elderly/compromised, and that is understandable. However, there are many young families that have not hesitated to attend packed sporting events, restaurants, and other activities. Please understand that this is not a mask/no mask matter. In an effort not to sound legalistic, physical “church” attendance is not required or expected (God wants our hearts, not our attendance). Ensuring that our children see that our Lord comes first in our lives is imperative. Church, please forgive me for my lack of discernment with my son and the Lord’s day.
Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Hello, hello from Ashland Kentucky! It has been awesome serving as the Youth and Children’s Minister at Legacy Ashland FBC. The support from all three campuses has been incredible, and I am glad to still be connected with so many of you. Also, I want to thank everyone SO much for checking on my family and praying for my dad in light of his massive heart attack. He’s improving and may even be home in a few days!
Over at our Ashland campus, we have recently fired back up the youth group, which meets on Wednesdays at 7. Obviously, things have been difficult for EVERYONE in this strange year, but we are grateful to still be investing in the lives of our teenagers and their families. Last Saturday, we took a trip to the Milton Corn Maze, and our students and volunteers were able to deepen bonds and form new relationships. We plan to have plenty more big events like that in the future.
I am immensely grateful for the support of all the folks at Legacy Ashland FBC. All of our members have been remarkably encouraging to us as we seek to expand God’s Kingdom in the tri-state area. When I have needed help with events, people are always willing to stand in. Our children’s church/nursery workers have been phenomenal and dependable from day one. They do such a fantastic job of teaching the kiddos and coming up with innovative ideas for curriculum and building on to our kid’s ministry.
Lastly, I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Mackey Gaskin. Mackey has been an excellent boss, mentor, and friend. He is always willing to help me come up with outreach and ministry ideas. He is a wizard when it comes to using social media. He is one of the best listeners I have ever met. He really has inspired me to always continue investing in the next generation, especially with our teenagers. Remember, church family, teenagers are not the church of tomorrow: they are the church of today. Love y’all!!!
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications (specific requests), prayers, intercessions (prayers for others), and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV
Every four years in America, it seems like our country is literally split in half. Political parties make it their ultimate goal to provoke and divide the American people, drawing us to passionately argue about our differing opinions, rather than seeking common ground among ourselves. The media feasts on this season. This is how they make their money. They intentionally fan the flame of division for the purpose of boosting their airtime ratings. I almost guarantee that you cannot watch one hour of news (no matter what your political persuasion is) without a heightened heart rate and increased blood pressure.
During this season, I encourage you to take the Word of God to heart. Sometimes we can get the ‘Joshua mindset’ when it comes to politics. We assume that God is on our side. In Joshua 4, the nation of Israel was preparing to go to battle against the city of Jericho. All of a sudden, there appeared to Joshua a man with his sword drawn. He didn’t realize that it was the commander of the Lord’s army. We can identify with Joshua’s natural response to the man. Joshua said, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” To which the commander of the Lord’s army responded, “No!” Remember, Joshua asked “the man” a multiple-choice question, but His response was simple: neither. As Christians, we have a tendency to turn politics into “who would Jesus vote for,” and we proceed to argue our supposition with condescending remarks, believing ourselves to be taking the moral high-ground. The reality is, Jesus isn’t a Republican...and Jesus isn’t a Democrat. Jesus is the King! And like he told Pilate on crucifixion day, “My kingdom is not of this world...” (John 18:36) He is establishing His kingdom in the hearts of believers, and we long for the day that King Jesus will establish His reign on this earth. There will be no politics. There will be no vote. Jesus will reign supreme. You and I are citizens of that country.
So, what should you do in the meantime? Pray! When Obama was President, Jesus called you to pray for him. When Trump was elected, Jesus called you to pray for him. Whoever wins in a couple of weeks, the Bible is clear. We are called to fervently pray for that man (or woman). We don’t pray because we love (or hate) the President; we pray because we long to see Jesus establish His Kingdom here and now!
During Sunday morning worship, we’ve recently looked at 7 Hebrew words that we derive our English translated word “Praise” from. Right off the bat, that’s a stunning insight: that the Hebrew language has such specific definition and instruction for praising Yeshua (Jesus), that one word simply can’t cover all the bases. Without paying careful attention to the ancient Hebrew, we would miss out on these incredibly special nuances. Here’s a brief, somewhat superficial overview of them:
1. HALAL הָלַל - This is the base word from where we get “Hallelujah” from. It means to rave, boast, celebrate, even to the point of being “foolish”. This isn’t indicative of a somber, solemn mood...this is quite frankly party time! Time to rejoice in the Creator of all things! Ps 22:16
2.Yadah יָדָה - This is a verb...a call to action to put your hands in the air; raise your hands; extend them towards heaven and acknowledge the greatness of God! Ps 63:4
3. BARAK בָּרַךְ - another action verb...kneeling in honor, as you would before a King. Presenting, yielding yourself to the King of Kings. Ps 95:6
4. ZAMAR זָמַר - literally means "to touch the strings". The idea here is using instrumentation to make music to God. String instruments and crashing cymbals! Scripture says “awaken the dawn!” Ps 108:1-2
5. SHABACH שָׁבַח - this word exists to take “Zamar” one step further: it means to be audibly LOUD. (And no, I’m not making this up, much to the chagrin of my parents). Shabach means to address in a loud tone, to triumph, to shout! God wants to hear us, and wants others to hear us. Psalm 145:4
6. TOWDAH תּוֹדָה - This is another level deeper than Yadah...it’s again lifting our hands, but this time specifically in a receptive, expectant context: waiting for things that we have not yet received. Think of it this way; a small child with their hands raised towards you is expecting something to happen...they NEED you: feed me, hold me, I’m scared, I’m tired...WOW! What a visual of Abba Father, right?! Psalm 50:14
7. TEHILLAH תְּהִלָּה - This is an expression of praise that God says He INHABITS. He is enthroned on the praises of His people. Ps 22:3. The implication here seems to be that not all praise is necessarily equal. Tehillah is a high form of praise that the Psalmist suggests that God dwells within. Psalm 33:1. File this one under “mysteries of God that we may not be able to fully understand this side of eternity”...but what a concept once we realize what’s happening here.
Let’s continue to explore these 7 ways that the Creator of the Universe has given us to praise Him!
-- Nick Joyce
This Sunday, our church family has the great privilege of having a guest speaker address the congregation. It is with much excitement and anticipation I introduce to you my father in-law, Pastor Charles H. Rogers, Jr.
Pastor Rogers is a native of Columbus, Ohio and is the oldest of three children born to the late Pastor Charles H. Rogers Sr., and Mrs. Velma G. Rogers. Pastor Rogers served in the United States armed forces as an Army, Radar Repair Specialist and an Aircraft Armament Systems Specialist in the Air Force Reserve.
He attended Franklin University, School of Business and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the DeVry University, a Master of Biblical Studies and earned a Doctor of Theology degree from the North Carolina College of Theology.
While maintaining a notable career as a Computer Engineer, he has concurrently served faithfully in ministry since 1984. As a minister and elder, Pastor Rogers’ contribution to the development of God’s Kingdom has included, but not been limited to, serving as Transportation Coordinator, Shuttle Driver, Sunday School teacher, Audio Technician, Outreach Coordinator, Grant Writer and more. Pastor Rogers has developed and implemented numerous ministries, establishing the MTC Community Outreach Corporation, the “Victory Through Faith” radio broadcast and a prison ministry that spanned the state of Ohio, to name a few.
Pastor Rogers accepted the position of Pastor of Faith Tabernacle Church, C.O.G.I.C. in Columbus, Ohio in 2001 and served the ministry for 19 years. In 2018 he accepted the call and reassignment to his current position as pastor of Mt. Calvary, C.O.G.I.C. in Washington Park, Illinois. He is currently overseeing a ministry of revitalization and restoration in this underserved community.
Pastor Charles H. Rogers has been the husband of Lady Leisa Rogers for nearly thirty-five years, and the proud father of three lovely children; Sharon Michelle, Shandon Charles, and Shauon Anthony, and two grandsons; Josiah Allen and Judah Hamilton Napier.
I am honored to have Pastor Rogers as my father in law. He is an incredible man of God, speaker, leader, husband, father and grandfather. I look forward to him delivering God’s word, and then us turning and applying it in our own lives. I pray each of you tune in either physically or virtually, whichever you deem is safe for you family. I know that you will be blessed!
I’m not going to lie, when we went in to “lockdown” I went to the store and doubled up on groceries for a couple weeks. This was unchartered territory, but as a mom to three little ones I was most concerned about them. Am I being careful enough? How can Iprotect them? What should I say to them? Do you see a pattern? Echoing Jon’s sermon from Sunday, God was not my first response in pandemic. As bizarre as it was, I happened to be reading through Leviticus the week the Governor issued our stay-at-home order. Now typically, if we are being completely honest, I would have glazed over during Leviticus, but in the midst of the situation, I REJOICED in the reading knowing that isolation was something as old as the ages in controlling the spread of disease. Thank you, Lord, for your provision!
As the weeks went on, I began getting anxious, again. We had two Spring birthdays coming up that would surely be cancelled, no starting tee-ball, and no foreseeable church activities. As a mom, I was starting to feel inadequate because I didn’t feel like I was doing enough. Ouch. See that repetition again? This feeling of inadequacy and anxiousness was shared by many moms and what developed from that was a virtual, gospel-centered book study that spanned until just last week where we were in community, supporting one another, bearing one another’s burdens, and praying for one another through this trying time. That sounds a lot like Church, doesn’t it? Thank you, Lord, for your provision!
As parents, it is so easy to fall in to the idea that we are in control and must be in charge of x, y, and z to ensure that our family is taken care of, but Jesus poses the question in Matthew Chapter 6 verse 26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” How convicting! If our Savior cares so deeply for the birds, insects, and plants, imagine the intricacy His plan of provision is for His children. Be encouraged today, parents, we don’t have to navigate this pandemic on our own, because we have the most perfect Parent providing for our every need. Thank you, Abba Father, for your unfailing provision!
Unity of the church is a theme that is stressed in every letter of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul described it like this, “Now you (Plural, ‘y’all’) are the body of Christ, and individual members of it.” (1 Cor 12:27). Paul also stated how we should care for one another in light of our unity by teaching, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3-4).
However, maintaining unity within the church is no easy task. Which is why Paul also encouraged us to “walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.” (Eph 4:1-3) If we are to be faithful to the calling of scripture on our church we must accept the fact that we will inevitably hurt and disappoint one another. We are all sinful people living and serving and worshipping alongside other sinful people. But when we remember how much God has forgiven each of us, then we can forgive one another and serve Him together.
Right now, our nation is extremely divided on a wide variety of issues from politics to ethnic tensions. Therefore we as the church have a wonderful opportunity to show the world what a family based on the love of Christ looks like as our church comes together from all three campuses (Kenova, Ashland, & Huntington) to meet together for a sweet night of unity this Sunday October 4th at 6:30pm at First Baptist Ashland (1701 Winchester Ave.). Though we come from different towns, states, generations, families, and cultures we are to be united by our love for Jesus and our desire to be obedient to the word of God. I’ll cya Sunday night in-person or via Facebook.
As each week passes, I have become even more excited for our Lord. We began Sunday school, have moved back to two services, kicked off our fall Sunday evening ministries as well as fellowship dinners and small groups. Is life “normal” again? To be honest, what is “normal”? Normal is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. This morning our devotion with the kids was on Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Based on the definition of “normal”, do we want to “be conformed to this world”? Absolutely not! Paul tells us “NOT to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”. He also shares a lot of solid elements (mercy and sacrifice to name a few) but it all points to one word: “worship”. If we are showing mercy but not pointing to God, it is not worship. John Piper shares “Before we give ourselves away in mercy to man, we give ourselves away in worship to God”. If we are sacrificing but not with God as our object of affection, it is not worship. Let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Paul shares in Philippians 1:20 “It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death”.
We have 3 ways that we give to God: our Treasure, Talent, and Time. So many have been faithful with their giving, prayerfully as their act of worship (and not because the Bible says so). Many times, our Talent and Time go hand and hand. I am so incredibly thankful for our Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, choir leaders, children’s church leaders and Wednesday evening children’s leaders. Your “worship” of our Lord through your Talents and Time continue to bring Him glory.
Are we all worshipping our Lord through our Treasures, Talents and Time? I want to encourage everyone to prayerfully contemplate if what we have to offer is pointing to and bringing Him glory.
Anxiety...it troubles you day and night. It is with you first thing in the morning when you drink your morning coffee and last thing at night when you place your head on your pillow. Anxiety is your companion in the workplace. It is the cloud that follows you everywhere you go, not allowing a ray of sunlight to pass through. It can rob you of the joy of relationships and leave you huddled in the corner of solitude. It can bear down on your heart like a crashing wave; just when you feel like it has passed, the next wave hits you. Anxiety is all too familiar to so many people, including Jesus-followers. Over the last 16 years of serving in the ministry, I have seen “anxiety” grow to be the most frequent struggle among the next generations. At times, I have personally wrestled through anxieties. It is in those times that the Word of God becomes a genuine refuge for my soul. One passage in particular is so familiar to us that we often overlook its significance...
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5b-7 ESV)
Now slow down and take the time to read it in the “Amplified” version. Meditate on it.
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].” (Philippians 4:5b-7 Amplified)
God is not calling us to be “anxious for nothing” because our problems are small and insignificant. The issues that you are dealing with right now probably justify you to be anxious. You may be wrestling through circumstances that are so complex that they affect literally every aspect of your life. However, God calls us to be “anxious for nothing” because of who He is. He is God. He is sovereignly in control. He is all-powerful. He spoke and the worlds came into existence. He shut the mouths of lions. He gives the victory over giants. He causes the enemy to tremble. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 ESV) Will you lay your burdens on Him, and trust Him completely? Or will you choose to carry burdens that you were never intended to carry on your own? If you “cast all your cares on Him,” you will begin to know a peace that is unexplainable...the kind of peace that is a bodyguard for your soul.
I love how Jesus approached people who society had cast aside. In John 4 we see an incredible story of how Jesus overcame racism, classism, and sexism all in one conversation with a Samaritan Woman. Jesus found a way to make time for so many that society had decided to overlook and undervalue. I wonder who Jesus would spend time with if he came to one of our towns or campuses?
For many of us, myself included, we look forward to seeing our friends and family at church. Those who we’ve been in small group with, those who we’ve served with, and those who we went to school with. But what about the new person or family who comes to our church? Are we looking for them? Each of our church’s campuses have been blessed by new families coming to our services and checking out our church in the last month. What a blessing! But are we noticing them?
Do we see the social aspect of church as an opportunity to catch up with our friends and family or are we trying to follow the model displayed by our leader Jesus of looking for those who may not know us but are looking for friendship and acceptance? Here’s one way we (myself included) can do a better job of loving those who may not feel loved. Look for those who are by themselves when you come to church. Check the sanctuary, is anyone sitting alone? Is there a family that isn’t talking to anyone other than themselves? If so, go introduce yourself and sit with them.
It can be an intimidating experience to come to a new church, but a few friendly faces and a sweet conversation will make most feel right at home. When the woman at the well finished talking with Jesus she felt cared for and valued. May the same be said of our church by those who come searching for truth and friendship.
Recently I was reading my devotions going through Nehemiah. The book could easily be titled “Rebuilding Broken Walls”.
Many times we find ourselves rebuilding broken walls. We could be rebuilding the walls of a broken relationship such as a marriage or a friendship, we could be rebuilding broken walls of a dilapidated prayer life, or maybe we are rebuilding our once strong faith in God that has been diminished over the years. Although Nehemiah was rebuilding literal walls there are principles found in Nehemiah that all of us will need to rebuild the broken walls in our lives. What can we learn from Nehemiah?
The work of rebuilding walls originates with a deep love for God. It’s love for God that compels Nehemiah to be burdened for Jerusalem. I believe this is why Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. It’s only from that place that any real work of rebuilding can begin.
The work of rebuilding walls first begins with prayer. Nehemiah’s first response was prayer. He sat down and wept for days and even fasted. He acknowledged the sin in his own heart and confessed it to the Lord. We must recognise that our own sin can, and oftentimes is the cause of a broken wall.
The work of rebuilding walls requires help from others. After examining the walls Nehemiah shared his burden with those who could help. It’s probable that he knew he needed help but wanted to get an accurate look at the problem to prepare a plan and then enlist those to help.
The work of rebuilding walls will face opposition. This is from those who have no right or no claim in the rebuilding work. This is the enemy. The scripture says that Sanballat and Tobiah and three other people groups heard the work was going forward and they were very angry. So they all plotted to fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion.
The work of rebuilding walls takes faith to complete. Not only did Nehemiah face opposition from the enemy he also faced dissension from among his own people. In all this Nehemiah continually cried out to God for strength and help. It takes faith like that to accomplish a great wall building project.
My dear friends, if you are in the process of rebuilding in your lives don’t be discouraged. It’s hard work but it can be done. Nehemiah learned that and you can too!!!
I genuinely love to gather (in-person) with the body of Christ on Sunday Mornings. I love the fellowship we share with one another in the Word. I love to hear the people of God lift their unified voices in praise. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it has caused many Christians to realize how vital our gatherings are to our growth as followers of Jesus. But let’s not forget, that worship is not just a weekend event. For the believer, the call to worship Jesus is an everyday event.
This past week, while studying to preach through John 2, I was challenged to consider something that I had never considered before. Jesus had just entered Jerusalem for the Passover (which was customary for every Jewish man) and upon entering the Temple, He found merchants who were selling “oxen, sheep, and pigeons,” along with “money-changers.” As Jews came into town from all over the Roman Empire to worship at the Passover, they would come from distant lands and carry with them their foreign currency. Because of the journey, it would be far more convenient to purchase a sacrifice upon arrival at the temple. In order to purchase an animal for sacrifice, or even give their temple tax, they were required to exchange their foreign currency to ‘temple currency.’ The money-changers took advantage of these travelers by charging excessively unfair exchange rates. When Jesus saw this, He made a whip of cords and “drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen” and “poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,” telling them all not to make His Father's house a “house of trade.” Obviously, Jesus was standing up against the merchants who were taking advantage of the people. However, consider this...In order to be called a place of trade, you must have sellers AND buyers. Could it be that Jesus was also rebuking those who conveniently came to worship without having an offering of their own to give? In order to offer a sheep or oxen, you had to care for your livestock and be willing to take the very best of your flock or herd to offer it as a sacrifice unto God. This would not only incur a risk of losing your most valuable animal (in terms of breeding), but it would require you to take an animal in which you have invested time and resources, day-in and day-out.
We must not consider worship to be just a weekend event. Worship is a lifestyle of daily walking in dependence on Christ, acknowledging His gracious goodness moment by moment. Genuine worship must cost us our lives for we are not our own...we were bought with a price! King David said it best in 2 Samuel 24:24 when he said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
The Search Committee encourages anyone that missed the Sunday service to watch last Sunday’s service online. Search committee is requesting the congregation pray each day for a specific item.
Sunday = In the middle of our uncertainty, pray for our church to totally depend upon God and for the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Monday = Pray for unity in the church body.
Tuesday = Pray for our Shepherds, Deacons and their families.
Wednesday = Pray for our pastors, ministers and their families.
Thursday = Pray for our future ministers and their families. Pray that God will reveal who He wants and place the right people in the proper roles within the church.
Friday = Pray for the search committee and their families.
Saturday = Pray for the search process and the ability of the committee and the Church to discern God’s will.
--The Pastoral Search Committee
Plans are underway for the upcoming Operation Christmas Child season. As each of us knows, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, along with the many ministries in our churches, communities and our world.
-We continue to trust God as the international, national and local preparations begin. As with all ministries, please be in prayer for our church and community as we prepare for the shoebox collections and for National Collection Week. The goal continues for boys and girls around the world to know that God loves them and has not forgotten them during this time of fear and uncertainty.
-As in years past, gracious donations of school supplies, and other shoebox items will be appreciated. The OCC donation box will be on the stage in Old Fellowship Hall.
- Packing shoeboxes this year, can be ‘Traditional’ or ‘Online’. Stay tuned to the Messenger for additional information.
- It’s never too early to start packing boxes!!
NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK –NOVEMBER 16-23, 2020
-The regional and national offices are working with the drop-off locations for the modifications that will be recommended.
-Please feel free to contact Len or Robyn Picha for any questions.
From the Search Committee:
The search committee is excited to recommend Jon Estes to fill the pastoral role for Legacy Huntington. The committee has spent many hours in prayer in the process and in discussions. We unanimously bring this recommendation before the church. The committee loves Jon and his family. The gifts and skills that God has blessed him with are very evident and we believe God is calling him to use those gifts to fill this role in our church body. The ministry at our Legacy Huntington campus is an important job and we are confident that with the following of the Holy Spirit that God will use our church in a mighty way to advance the Gospel if we simply follow Him. God is sovereign over all things…we feel strongly that God has placed Jon Estes in this position and the committee simply dedicated itself to follow His leading. To God be the Glory.
From Jon Estes: Be At Peace Among Yourselves
In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, with a heavy burden on his heart for the local church, Paul urged the church of Thessalonica to “respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord...and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” Paul’s burden is clearly displayed. His call is for the church to love, honor and respect those who labor in the ministry of leading, feeding and protecting the flock of God (specifically speaking of the elders—or in our case, shepherds). He ends verse 13 by saying, “Be at peace among yourselves.”
I want to encourage the church that Brandi and I are completely at peace. We have absolute confidence in the will and leading of the Lord! The heart of a minister of the Gospel should always resolve to be available to God to do whatever ... wherever ... whenever. From day one of the pastoral search process, the burden of my heart has never been to attain a specific position, but rather, to be available as a servant for whatever ... wherever ...whenever. We are excited for the opportunity to minister the Gospel in Huntington. We realize that it will not be without challenges, but we will joyfully strive to lead, feed and protect the flock. Though your heart may be filled with unrest, and your mind may be full of questions, let the “wisdom from above” rule you.
James 3:13, 17—"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom...but the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Starting this Sunday (August 2nd), we are so excited to dive into a week-by-week study of the Gospel of John at all three of our campuses! Many believers would say, “John is my favorite book in the Bible.” Whether you grew up in the local church, or you would be considered “unchurched,” the words that John wrote nearly 2000 years ago have most likely hit your ears at some point in your childhood. The majority of us would even testify that the first verse (or even, the only verse) that we have ever memorized was John 3:16 which says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Every time you turn on a football game, you will inevitably see at least one person holding up a sign that says “John 3:16.” I have even read that “John 3:16” is one of the most Google-searched topics in the world. I wonder if the Apostle John would have ever imagined how powerfully and universally God would use the testimony that he was writing!
The book of John is such a unique Gospel as it is the first-hand account of the life of Jesus through the eyes of the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” In Matthew 4:21-22, John and his older brother James were minding their own business, helping their father, Zebedee, with the family fishing business. Then Jesus showed up and everything changed! Jesus saw them “in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.” When Jesus called their names, they “immediately left the boat...and followed Him!” Over the next 31⁄2 years, they witnessed that God “became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) Every day they woke up to a new manifestation of God’s glory and power through Jesus’ earthly body. John said it this way: “...we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:14) As a disciple, John would be included in Jesus’ inner-circle (along with Peter and James), which allowed him to see and uniquely bear witness to Jesus’ earthly ministry. John himself said that “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.” (John 20:30) “Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) We have the tremendous privilege to read and study for ourselves the words of a man who walked in personal and intimate fellowship with the Savior!
The Gospel According to John speaks so powerfully to where we are as a human race in 2020. All the challenges that we face today, you will find, are clearly spoken of in this Gospel. Ironically, John was even physically isolated on an island as he wrote this book. God compelled and inspired John to write this testimony “so that YOU may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing YOU may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) I’m looking forward to our journey together through John over the next few months!
Ahoy from Legacy Ashland: First Baptist Church! It is good to be partnering with all of you as one church in three locations to be striving to reach not only the tri-state but the world with the good news of Jesus and the wisdom of scripture.
When I was in college I attended a large church that had multiple campuses in central Kentucky and I thought it was such a wonderful concept. Not only did it reflect the churches of the New Testament but it allowed for coordinated ministry efforts in ways that I had never seen before between congregations and today we have the same opportunity in the tri-state.
Those of us serving in Ashland are excited to partner with First Baptist Kenova on pulling off Nic @ Night in Ashland Central Park on Saturday August 15th. I believe this will be a wonderful night as kids play, families relax, and God’s truth and love is made known. I hope many of you will attend and bring your families.
We are also excited to partner together to reach teenagers in the area for Jesus as we share wisdom and resources for the betterment of teens and parents in the tri-state. Legacy Ashland recently hired John Muncy to serve as our Children’s & Youth Minister and by our church partnership I believe we will see many young families come to see Jesus as their Lord and Savior and make wise decisions for their futures.
May our campuses continue to partner together to see our congregations grow toward maturity in Christ, to always keep the Gospel message going forward locally & globally, and may we always care for and train up the next generation to replace us, because we are all leaving one day. Therefore let us leave a Legacy founded upon God’s Word that will last long after us.
The problem with the “cancel culture” ideology we are swimming in at the moment is not that it goes too far, it’s that it doesn’t go far enough.
The idea that we should be vetting our society’s heroes, not by their greatest accomplishments but by their worth as people is not an unwelcome development in my opinion. We have a responsibility to take a hard look at our icons and ask if they are worth emulating. That’s not a bad attitude to have.
Like all cultural revolutions, the reaction that we are seeing stems from a desire for something good. These men and women that we idolize with our statues and awards, like all people, are flawed. Their accomplishments and accolades aside, are they worth admiring as people? Columbus could really sail a ship, but would we want our children to be just like him?
That’s not to say that the most adamant of these “revolutionists” are always right in their methods or to the degree with which they wish to “cancel” people for every offense against the society’s current standards. But, to quote one of my dad’s favorite lines, “People will disappoint you every time.” That might sound overly pessimistic at first blush, but it’s true. You can’t put your faith in people. People will let you down. All our heroes, all our icons, our celebrities, our friends, our families, our churches and our leaders ... give them enough time and they will falter. And the reason is exceedingly simple: no one is perfect.
This is the reason the “cancel culture” movement will ultimately burn out and fail. Not because it’s wrong to seek to emulate only what is good, but because no one is really all that good in the first place. We don’t have a statue problem, we have a problem with humanity itself. At some point, we are going to realize no statue should stand, because there is no such thing as a good person. There are people who do some good things and people that accomplish great works but, if they are people they fall short of being worthy of our adulation. As Romans 3:10 says, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE”.
So, if you ask me, “cancel culture” doesn’t go far enough. In fact, it stops just short of where it should start. Let’s take this opportunity, not to assess how our flippant ever-changing society would view us today, but how we measure up to what is infinitely perfect. Let’s not seek to cancel careers but to cancel sin in our own hearts through the work of Jesus on the cross. After that, feel free to tear down down all the idols you have tried to put in His place. And let us take comfort, because though we all fail, Jesus doesn’t have a cancellation policy. He will never leave you or forsake you, not because you don’t deserve it (because you will), but because of His love for you.
So tear it all down if it makes you feel better. I promise you, if you give me enough time, I will fail you too. Jesus, however, never will. That, my friends, is the beauty of the gospel and it’s free to all that would call upon Him. Why not trust that promise today?
Years ago, I read a quote by Martin Luther that has stayed with me all these years. He said “prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” Initially, this quote didn’t make any sense to me. But as I meditated on it, in light of Scripture, God began to unlock a whole new dimension of my prayer life. For years, I found myself praying against, what I thought, was God’s reluctance. When I prayed, I would try to convince God to get on my page. At times, I prayed with such fervency that it was as if I was trying to change God’s mind about something. That seems quite ridiculous when you think about it. If we really understood how willing God is to answer our prayers, it would radically change our approach to the throne. Listen to what Jesus Himself said on this subject:
- In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus was expounding on the teaching of the Kingdom in what we call the “Sermon on the Mount,” and He said something about prayer that may seem foreign to the casual Christian. He said “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you: for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Did Jesus just say that whatever we ask of Him, we will not be denied? Jesus’ words give no indication that He is reluctant to provide for us what we ask of Him.
- In John 14:13-14, we read the words of Jesus to His disciples when He says “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” You may be asking yourself, ‘then why, when I ask for things, do I not get them?’ Are we missing something.
- In John 15:7, Jesus gives us a powerful clue as to how to unlock God’s provisions through prayer. He said, “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” If you are plugged into Jesus, relying on Him for everything, like a branch on a tree relies on the trunk for nourishment, then whatever you want to ask of God will be done “for you.” Do you find this promise to be true in your own life?
Here in lies the greatest struggle of prayer. We must first align ourselves with His heart, His mind, and quite literally, His very life, before any prayer of ours will move heaven to action. The harsh reality is, without aligning myself with Jesus, and praying in the Spirit, the Father is not moved to action. It is as if I am just saying words and quoting prayers. Then, when it doesn’t seem like God is answering us or moving to action, we get frustrated with this perceived “reluctance.” God is always ready and waiting to answer a genuine prayer of faith in such a powerful way that people everywhere can only say, “that had to be God!” Don’t you hunger to have that kind of prayer life?
Let me challenge you, in whatever stage of life that you are currently going through, to align yourself with God, abide in Christ and pray according to the power of the Spirit of God in you. Lay hold of God’s willingness, today!
And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Genesis 33:5 English Standard Version (ESV).
I love that word. Graciously. To give something graciously means to give something out of courtesy or kindness. From here we can gather and know that for someone to give something graciously, there must be grace and kindness flowing out of their character. Flowing out of the essence of Who that someone is. God our Father. For many years I questioned the kindness and graciousness of God. It was not until I really listened to the sound of a child laugh, or their little feet hit the ground running so quick toward the sound of a popsicle opening that I saw and heard it. I can see the kindness of God in the face of a child. I think God hardwired that into us because it is only a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father sees us.
This past Sunday was Father’s Day. Services at both FBCK and LCH were full of families and loved ones celebrating not only earthly fathers, but our Heavenly Father. As I was standing in the fellowship area of LCH before service, I began to look out into the parking lot. I saw children running toward the building, but also holding onto their fathers hands a little more tightly. Not to mention that there were 18 children that we were able to love on this week. As I watched family after family come into the building, I could not help but to see it. The kindness and the grace of God. I saw it so clearly that I was moved to tears before the service even began. I was reminded where we have been as a church family, and how the world can change so rapidly around us at any time. But I was also reminded that God is good, and I believe He gives us these little moments so that we reflect and remember that He graciously gives to us exactly what we need. He is the perfect Father, and He is gracious to us. As we grow as the local church and the Church, I pray that we are challenged to love our little ones in ways that we have never been able to before. I pray that we see the graciousness of God all around us. I pray that we see the children around us as the blessings that they are, given to us by God. I pray that we understand how much our Heavenly Father lavishes His love upon us as His children. Your lives and your children’s lives are a blessing to me.
Hello from the Windisch family! I am Nick and my wife is Melissa and we will be joining you soon from Georgia. We grew up in the south metro Atlanta area. We both became believers when we were in high school, but did not meet each other until after college. We married in 2005 and have three children: Abigail (9), Lydia (6), and Benjamin (2). As a family, we have always wanted to make ourselves willing and available to do anything God would ask us to do! Living by that principle has allowed us to have some amazing experiences and adventures together. The Lord has given us the opportunity to minister with many age groups from middle and high school, college, and adults in multiple different settings. We have been in traditional church settings, church plants, and we also had the joy of serving overseas in missions for two years. When we left in 2015 for Turkey, we were prepared to stay long-term but God had other plans. After the country refused to issue our visas, we moved on to Kosovo to serve along with some dear friends until we returned to the states for the birth of our son.
For the majority of my life I have been bi-vocational and have worked for Chick-fil-a but the Lord continued to lead and direct me to give myself exclusively to full-time ministry to build up and equip the church. It seems to be true in my life that God rarely asks me to do something that I feel completely qualified and confident to do but that is where He has always shown up to do the work that I could not do myself! Melissa and I have always had a great concern for the college students in particular because we know through our own experiences that it is an important time so we look forward to being able to walk alongside them. It is a season where young adults are becoming more independent and making crucial decisions about faith and life. I am so thrilled to join the team at First Baptist of Kenova and Legacy Church of Huntington as we seek to impact college students in the tri-state area. I am happy to know that we will not be trying to do this on our own, but there are already people in the church who have a heart for the unique needs of the college students and want to see them grow in their relationship with Christ and the church! Our family is so excited to join you in what God is doing!
On RightNowMedia, there are many Bible Studies available for us to take advantage of. Two that I recommend are "The Power of Jesus' Names" by Tony Evans and "Greater Than" by Francis Chan.
Here are a few thoughts that I have gleaned from them.
We see turmoil and division all around us every day - in the world, our nation, our state, our cities, and even in our churches. But we know that God is not the author of confusion. Satan started rebellion in heaven (Is 14) and has been at work ever since, but we are not ignorant of his designs. Every problem in our life is the result of our own sin or someone else's sin. God may allow sin for a season, but it will never win.
Our Holy God will not allow sin in His presence, but because He loves us, He made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 says "but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In John 16:33 Jesus says, "In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world."
Having this promise, we can trust that God can and will use our pain and suffering for His glory if we allow it. He can use it to make us stronger and draw closer to Him. Do you believe this? Will you count it all joy, my brothers (and sisters) when you meet trials of various kinds, for we know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its' full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
Meanwhile, when we see all the signs of Christ's return begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28
Finally, occupy until I return. Luke 19:13 (KJV)
The book of James has been deeply encouraging and personally convicting to me as a follower of Jesus. I am convinced that if we see ourselves exclusively under the authority of the Almighty God, it causes seemingly difficult steps of obedience to be reasonable and easy. The practical, yet confrontational style of James' letter clearly describes how true obedience is demonstrated within a genuine walk of faith. Looking back, there is no doubt in my heart that God has led us into this study for such a time as this.
Speaking about contention within the body of Christ, James specifically helps us to see how we should personally carry ourselves. Every believer should be compelled to walk in the "meekness of wisdom," striving to be "pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere." (James 3:13, 17) In a simple and systematic way, James declares 10 imperative verbs in chapter 4, verses 7-10 which directly address not only how to handle conflict, but how to lay hold of this wisdom that comes from God. I challenge you as a follower of Jesus to allow these 10 commandments from the book of James to be what guides your prayers and governs your steps.
1. Submit to the Authority of God /// Be obedient and available to His command
2. Resist the Devil /// Be defiant to the Adversary's influence
3. Draw near to God /// Be hungry for the intimacy of God's presence
4. Cleanse your Hands /// Be set free from your sinful actions
5. Purify your Hearts /// Be set free from your sinful motives
6. Be Wretched /// Be humiliated by the holiness of God
7. Mourn /// Be miserably sorrowful over your sin
8. Weep /// Be emotionally honest and broken over your sin
9. Don't Laugh it off /// Be soberly aware of the severity of your sin
10. Humble Yourself /// Be abased before God and Man
Imagine what the relationships in your life would look like if you strived to walk in these things. May we, as a church, make it our priority to walk in obedience in both word and deed!
The general sense of what worship “is” is widely known, but the specifics of what it means are a little vague. Aside from obedience (e.g. avoiding sin and following what God asks of us), there are specific ways to show God admiration. In 1 Chronicles, during David's many great acts, we get a glimpse into ancient worship practices that are still applicable today. These practices are recorded in countless psalms of David, where his way of worship was deemed “the way to worship.”
After David and his comrades’ journey to Obed-Edom to bring back the ark of the covenant, David appoints “some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of Yahweh (1 Chr. 16:4). The Levites are first to “invoke” (call upon Him) Yahweh. They are then to do what should be natural in all encounters with Him: thank and then praise Him. These are all acts of worship and the way to worship: acknowledge Him by calling on Him, be thankful for His provision, and then praise Him for who He is.
God does not need to hear how great He is – that is not why we worship. It's that we need to be reminded. In humbling ourselves before Him, we are demonstrating our rightful place in His kingdom as His servants, appointed for His great works (Eph. 1:11).
Worship is really about longing for God. Our attitude toward God should be as Psa 84:2 proclaims: My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
I encourage each and every one of you to instill these worship practices into your daily life.
Summer months are approaching as we begin to transition toward re-opening our country. Churches, businesses, and travel will once again be available. It is very important that we return to the ministries of the church with dedication and vigor. As vacations and outdoor activities make demands for our time, we must remember our commitment to Jesus. Teachers, small group leaders (of the small groups not taking the summer off), and others leading various ministries will be taking vacations or just need a little break. Please consider stepping up and filling in for them when asked. It will be a blessing to them and to you as well.
Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that we are “ambassadors for Christ”. This means we are to serve and represent Him at all times. In Ephesians 2:10 Paul says, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works”. And as Pastor Jon pointed out in his sermon Sunday from James 2:17-18: “faith without works is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say “you have faith and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” These are just a few of the many verses that tell us of the tremendous privileges we have in Christ Jesus. With privilege comes responsibility.
In his inaugural address President John F. Kennedy offered this challenge to the citizens of America; “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. We can replace the word “country” in this statement with any of several words, ie; church, friend, or neighbor. So, my fellow Christians, ask not what your Savior can do for you, ask what you can do for your Savior.
We come together with a unified message we would like to share with the Body. As you know, we’ve been facing some trials as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thankfully, God’s Word tells us in James that when trials of any kind come our way, we are to consider it an opportunity for great joy, so we know the current trials we are facing provide this opportunity for joy.
Our shepherds have poured their hearts out as overseers of the flock. They have met with staff and leadership that attend our HCC campus over 100 hours with relentless attempts to maintain unity. Every meeting has been with the intent to unite our congregation and not divide because we know Jesus is in the business of bringing us together.
It is important to note that obedience to God’s Word has to be followed with respect to the leaders of His Church. On this, we simply cannot and will not compromise in any way. I Timothy 3 is clear in the essential qualities of our leaders. Several scriptures including Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2 reference the responsibility of our shepherds protecting the flock, which is our entire Body. With respect to Titus 3:10-11, they are also responsible for holding a brother accountable.
This brings us to Hebrews 13:17, which reminds us of our responsibility as a congregation. “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit of you.”
As recent as this past week, our shepherds urged Jason Brumfield and I, who are currently serving as deacons, and Larry Lucas, the chairman of the Missions Committee, to meet with some leaders from HCC in an effort to see if different, fresh sets of lenses could manage to see things in another light. Our intent going into the meeting was to pursue every possibility that would bring peace and continued ministry with our entire church family. If some sort of recommendation could be agreed upon, that recommendation would be brought to the Council of Shepherds. It is with tremendous regret that we feel we have simply reached an impasse. We feel we have exhausted every avenue. Leaders from the HCC campus expressed independence is non-negotiable. Our leaders have spent hours upon hours begging for our body to continue as one, but that desire is not reciprocated which has led us to this impasse.
It is our responsibility to meet the demands of scripture. Therefore, for the sake of Christ and unity within our body, our recommendation would be that we are moving forward with the continued mission of reaching the students and faculty at Marshall University and the surrounding area with the gospel of Christ. We will continue to worship our Savior at 2001 7th Avenue in Huntington, 1120 Poplar Street in Kenova, and across the globe. With all the changes and challenges happening at our church campuses, plans are being developed regarding what ministry will look like once things open back up.
We are here today in full support of our shepherds, all of which agreed upon and came to the incredibly difficult, but extremely wise decision, to hold a brother accountable, while protecting the flock. As you have witnessed, they have humbled themselves before man and before God. The weight has been heavy, but we know through Scripture, joy awaits.
It would be irresponsible for us to not join our shepherds in publicly warning the flock so that you may be spared. We love you all, as well as all involved in this process. Division was never a goal and still is not. Christ unites. Satan divides. We recognize there is much to learn from the past and that will be a focus for our future. We respectfully submit to our shepherds as God has called us, and ultimately to our Father in Heaven! Our recommendation is to stop living in the past, so we can move forward with the message of Christ! We hope our congregation comes together as one in this trying time and send an open invitation to all who want to worship God and make disciples. We cannot wait to be together again!
Brothers and Sisters,
To say that we are living in perilous times would be a massive understatement! So much uncertainty and so many things happening that are out of our control. With Coronavirus affecting our every thought and deed and keeping us apart as a church family, with Steve leaving and the realization of continuing without our pastor of twenty-one years can be a frightening thought. Understanding the magnitude of this can very easily create in us an emptiness and an aloneness. To all of this I say, Fear not church family! There is a remedy, a cure and a filling that satisfies, even to the core of who we are and what we need. The answer to all of this comes from God’s revelation to us, His children. Now more than ever we must immerse ourselves in the truth that comes from God’s word and the power of the Holy Spirit. May this endeavor consume us and as this uncertainty diminishes may we recognize yet another attribute of our God, that He will never leave us nor forsake us, especially in desperate times. What a promise!
The other thing we must do is not only run to God’s word but also run to each other. Passages with these concerns are scattered throughout the bible. Because we want a recipe for success among the brethren, we must run to God’s word to attain truly sincere unity: we find therein-
- 1) We are of one Body (a fellowship of believers)
- 2) We are of one Spirit (who activates the fellowship)
- 3) We are of one Hope (the glorious future to which we were called)
- 4) We are of one Faith (our commitment to Christ)
- 5) We are of one Baptism (a demonstration of alignment with Christ)
- 6) We are of one Lord (Christ our Savior)
We must attain true unity. Ps.133:1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.
This unity was never more evident than what was seen this last week as all of the primary committees, staff and shepherds declared that we were going to support one another, encourage one another, work diligently towards finding Steve’s replacement and methodically work through the concerns regarding the HCC campus and do whatever is necessary in keeping a humble heart and a sweet spirit among the brethren. We as Christians should be united with the common cause of presenting a risen Savior above all else believing that a lack of unity comes from a lack of love, may we love greatly during these times!
This is our “Moses is Dead” moment. The question is are we going to move forward like Joshua in claiming what God has for us or are we going to doubt like the ten spies who thought it wasn’t worth fighting for. I say the former rather that the latter should be our banner.
Overwhelmed by forgiveness and grace,
In the early years of my journey of serving the Lord in the ministry, I served as a Minister of Music right across the Ohio River in South Point, Ohio. I'll never forget, as I was preparing to lead my first Easter Cantata, I spent a significant time in the Word formulating thoughts and assembling a script to use within the cantata. The deeper I dug into the Word, the more my heart burned with the message of the Resurrection of Jesus. From that day forth, my heart has not ceased to burn with that message! There is no greater proof of the validity of our faith in Christ than the Resurrection of His earthly body! This is why Paul said in Romans 10:9 that "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, you will be saved." Notice that it doesn't say, you must believe that He died on a cross, or that He was born of a virgin, or that He lived a life of perfection. All of those things are absolutely vital, but the crux of our faith rests on an empty tomb. If Jesus had never risen from the dead, then He would be a liar (because He said He would rise). If Jesus had never risen from the dead, then He would still be dead. If Jesus had never risen from the dead, then there would be no Gospel and we would still be sinners! This is why we rejoice in Paul's declaration in 1 Corinthians 15:20, "But IN FACT Christ has been raised from the dead!" Glory to God!
Because Jesus is risen, that means He is literally alive! Today, Jesus is alive! He promised His followers that He would not just die FOR us, but that He would also give Himself TO us! He is literally alive in us! Romans 5:10 says, "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." What Jesus did on that cross allowed us to be reconciled back to God; What Jesus did in that tomb allows us to be actively saved (changed or sanctified) by the life that He now lives in us! My goodness! What a glorious thought, that "the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled IN US!" (Romans 8:3-4) Our only hope of living the Christian life is that Jesus is alive in us! For apart from Him, we can do nothing! (John 15:5)
What an incredible Easter celebration we had at the Ceredo Plaza! We are overwhelmingly grateful for all those who sacrificed time, effort and resources to allow our community of believers to gather in the open air! A few of the leaders from the parking lot and security teams have surmised that, between both services, the event may have gathered over 1,000 people on Sunday! On top of that, we had 10,000 views on Facebook Live (not to mention those who may have watched on our website)! That is incredible! To GOD be the glory!
I believe there are 3 key reasons why we had such a huge response:
1. THE CHURCH IS LONGING TO GATHER
In this unique season, we are being encouraged by pastors and governmental officials to not gather. If we told you two months ago that 'nearly every Pastor in America will tell their people not to come to church,' you would laugh and think we were crazy! However, this has become the new normal. The longer we live in isolation, the more we are personally convinced that our gatherings are far more than just a check-list of Christian activity. We LONG to gather together to glorify the name of Jesus in song! We LONG to edify and be edified by one another in the Word! We LONG to shake a hand, hug a neck, and in Biblical terms, give a holy kiss! But in the meantime, praise God for a parking lot...and Facebook Live...and even Zoom.
2. THE WORLD IS CURIOUS
Right now, the unbelieving world is searching for answers. Many of them have not really stopped to consider what will happen after they die. The panic and anxiety that has be caused by COVID-19 has drawn them to fear death. These paralyzing fears over the last month may be softening their hearts to truth and causing them to be curious. This curiosity may not be strong enough to lead them down to the church in their neighborhood, so instead, they watch from the quiet of their own homes. We believe millions of people, who have never had "ears to hear," are being exposed to the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus in these days!
3. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS PASSIONATELY PROCLAIMING
We can all agree that God's thoughts are so much greater than ours and we really cannot fathom His plans. But consider this: Throughout the history of the Church, we have not seen a worldwide event that has caused us to exclusively minister outside the walls of a building! Across the entire world, church buildings have remained vacant for a month! You can imagine Satan being pretty pumped about that. But do you remember the words of Jesus when He told His disciples "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Satan has got to be a little frustrated that the Church is continuing, and the Spirit of God is still proclaiming the message of a resurrected Christ through us! "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
It’s early April. But instead of being out enjoying the sunset like most spring evenings, people are holed up in their homes. The streets are vacant, the markets are silent, and the usual sounds of laughter have been replaced with anxiety throughout the land.
The economy has taken quite a blow over the events surrounding this season and this unprecedented event is unlike anything any living person has ever seen. Though the people have been told by their leaders to stay in their homes, thousands will ignore all warnings and perish due to their inability to listen to the ones who know what is about to happen. Things are going to get much, much worse. The year I’m talking about? 1446 BC.
Such was the case 3400 years ago when the Hebrew people were in lockdown with lamb’s blood covering their doorposts. The Egyptian economy had been decimated by several rounds of natural disasters and plagues, but on this night God’s judgment would be the worst. The angel of death would pass through their country, and by morning hundreds of thousands of Egyptian first-born will be dead.
I hate the fact that we cannot celebrate the Seder dinner this Easter season, but as we socially distance from one another and hunker down in our homes, let’s remember what the Hebrew people experienced when people were dying all around them. But just like today, people of faith look to the blood of the Lamb to give us courage and hope. This too shall pass, just like the angel of death passed over the Hebrew children, and life and freedom were soon the blessing of the Jewish people under Moses’ leadership.
Things worked out for them and they will work out for us. We are going to be OK. In the meantime, let’s make like the Hebrew children and follow the advice of our authorities. We can still worship together, pray together….pretty much everything we usually do except for meeting together. Still, it will be OK.
Please read the announcements to get the details for worship on Easter morning. Whether it’s online or in a parking lot Easter service, the Lord will be praised this Resurrection Sunday. While times such as these are new to us, they are not new to history. Pandemics come and go but the Word of God will stand forever. We will survive it and as the Scriptures so often say, “This too shall pass.”
I have to say I’ve had both good and bad bosses over the years. The bad bosses had one thing in common: I couldn’t trust them. They would tell me one thing and do another.
Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have some great bosses during these, my last 15 years at FBC Kenova.
The first four shepherds/elders I served under were Jack Ferguson (chair), Jerry Saulton, Dave Akers and Joe Dorsey. These four made some really tough decisions up front and mainly, these four are the reason I ministered as long as I have in the Tri-State area.
Most people don’t know it, but there were several times when I had hair-brained ideas and these men told me, “Bad idea!” Honestly, there were very few times when they had to tell me to do anything, it was always more of a stop-me-before-I-do-something-stupid role that they played.
We also ordained shepherds Rick Gue, Bruce Mosser, Danny Pelfrey and Lawrence Thompson. (I have to be honest, I really miss Lawrence!) These men also loved the Lord and set a good example for me as to how to love my wife and keep my integrity.
But the #1 thing they gave me was being the exact opposite of my bad bosses. They told me the truth. If I asked, and sometimes even when I didn’t ask, these men pointed me in the right direction time after time after time.
That’s why I am writing this article. You can trust the six shepherds who still remain here. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that no one ever knows, and these six men made right decision after right decision after right decision. As the saying goes, “Wisdom is known by her fruits,” and the fruit of these men has abided for well over a decade. I’m most thankful for them. The collective wisdom that exists between them is priceless and I couldn’t have had a better bunch of leaders in my life.
Moving forward, you can know that there are men you can trust at the wheel. They will be helping choose the search committee for my replacement. Please keep the entire team in your prayers but remember, God will work through them and other members of the search committee to bring the next Lead Pastor at FBC Kenova.
With all the craziness going on, I wanted to give you some encouraging words and some exhortations toward healthy living.
First, a word from one of our former Campus Crusade students, Todd McClure. He is now serving as the WV Baptist Convention Missions Director. Todd writes,
“In 1736, John and Charles Wesley were on board a ship headed to America when they encountered a terrible storm. The Wesley’s were commissioned as Anglican missionaries and were headed for the colony of Georgia. Also on board the ship was a group of Moravians, a protestant community from Germany (modern-day Czech Republic) who were part General Oglethorpe’s philanthropic venture to Georgia. It was this encounter with the Moravians that would forever change John Wesley’s life.
As the storm began to develop, the individuals on board were aware that they were in danger of being ship-wrecked. With most of the individuals, including the Wesley’s, panicking for their lives, John could not help but to notice the peace that the Moravians displayed. In the midst of this brutal storm, he was awestruck by the fact that the Moravians were hosting a worship service, praising God with great intensity.
On January 25th, this is what John wrote in his diary: “In the midst of the Psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterwards; ‘Were you not afraid?’ He answered, ‘I thank God, no.’ I asked: ‘But were not your women and children afraid?’ He replied mildly: ‘No, our women and children are not afraid to die.’” The storm was boisterous, but the Moravians kept praising God. Finally, the storm subsided.”
After reaching Georgia, John sought spiritual counsel from the Moravian Bishop, A.G. Spangenberg. Though he had been sent as a missionary, he realized he lacked the spiritual comfort and certainty that the Moravians had displayed. He wrestled with this over the next few years, and it was not until 1738, back in England that he found that certainty. He wrote in his diary, dated May 24th: “On Wednesday, May 24 in the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, (A Moravian meeting) where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart Strangely Warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and felt an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
John Wesley would go on to have an enormous impact on the Christian world, having a large theological influence on the Methodist denomination. He and his brother Charles also had a great impact on George Whitfield, who was an influential vessel that God used in America’s Great Awakening. John and Charles also composed numerous hymns, many of which are still sung by churches today.
As I contemplate the situation we find ourselves in today, with the coronavirus storm continuing to brew, a question that I believe worth asking is: Is your faith in God more like the Moravians (confident in the sovereign God) or more like young John Wesley’s (panicking like the rest of the world)?
As a community of believers, we have an incredible opportunity right now to display to the world our confidence in the Risen King, and with Easter right around the corner, what greater time to introduce the world to that Risen King? Much has been made about the fact that we are living in an unprecedented time. And while this virus may be new, storms and disease and panic has been around since Genesis 3. As believers, I want to remind you: Our confidence does not rest in the ever-changing world. Our confidence rests in the never-changing King.”
I’m thankful for Todd and his ministry. Thanks, church family, for all you have done over the years to support collegiate ministry. There are a lot of “Todds” out there right now because of your unending support.
NOTES OF ENCOURAGEMENT:
1. At the time of this writing, our Facebook page had over 5,000 screen views for our Sunday morning worship service. Considering several were watching with family members, and adding in the HCC/Ashland viewers, we probably reached more people with the Word of God this week than in a normal month! You can keep this incredible outreach going by
a. Promoting our online services in advance by inviting people via your own social media accounts, texting others, or best yet, making phone calls!
b. Continuing to watch online and including family members with you.
c. While watching, feel free to type in an “AMEN” or “Praise the Lord” during the service as if you were there LIVE.
d. As soon as the broadcast comes on, hit SHARE on Facebook. This gets the link out to everyone who might be scrolling through online and as they join in and share, it only multiplies the Word going forth!
2. We’ve had tons of volunteers and staff work hard to make all this happen. Even though we aren’t doing our usual ministries, we are still working for the Lord.
3. Online small group attendance has been pretty good … not a whole lot lower than a normal week.
4. We are continuing to write our first checks to our missionaries. Thank God, online offerings have been close to normal. If you typically write checks to the church, please be sure to mail those in. If you need help with online giving, call Blake at the church office, 304-453-1811. He will still be answering phone calls during normal office hours.
5. Wednesday night online prayer meeting was AWESOME! Be sure to join us LIVE via my personal FACEBOOK account.
1. First, from the first of the 3-part sermon series on Jesus, the Bible, and Social Distancing.
a. Be sure you don’t social distance from Jesus during this time. Stay in the Word.
b. Remember we are the daughters and sons of God. We are more than servants. We are His children and that makes us all brothers and sisters. We will get through this as a family.
c. Just because we are separated physically doesn’t mean we need to disengage spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. To me, the greatest danger in this crisis is not the physical effects of COVID-19 or the effects on the economy, I’m concerned there is going to be a massive mental health crisis as a result of social isolation.
d. ENGAGE those who have DIS-engaged. Reach out to people you haven’t seen in a while. Contact some extended family members. Keep engaging people.
2. Prayer walks. Even though our states have issued “stay at home” directives, this just means only essential workers should be going in to work. It does NOT mean you can’t get out and take a walk with friends. Medical professionals are telling us that if we are outside, as long as we keep an 8-foot circle around us, we will be fine. Therefore, you’ll see our staff occasionally promoting prayer walks where we’ll meet and walk through town, keeping our safe spaces, but still socially interacting and praying together. I hope you’ll join us when you can. But whether you are with us or on your own, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and INTERACT with others. BE CAREFUL, NOT FEARFUL!
We will continue to stay in touch. Remember, especially if you are over 70, we have volunteers who will go to the store for you, make deliveries, leave whatever you need on your porch for you. It will be our pleasure. Just let us know!
I listened to both CNN and Fox News for about 4 hours last night, and I have to be honest, I heard very little of a call to prayer like we heard after 9/11. As a former Bio/Chem major, of course I believe in science and of course I’m glad people are doing “social distancing.” But now is not the time to do “faith distancing.” At some point I hope the leaders of our nation are less like King Asa and start calling on the LORD to remove this plague from us. “In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD, but only from the physicians.” 2 Chronicles 16:12.
Our national, state, and local government leaders need prayers for wisdom. I cannot imagine the weight they are bearing on their shoulders right now. My prayer is not only that they are leaning on the Lord, but that they openly call upon the name of Jesus and the world can see something miraculous as a result of prayer. If God could shield the people of Goshen from the plagues that were happening right across the Nile River in Egypt, then it would be a small thing for God to put a quick end to this Coronavirus. The root word “Corona” means crown or king. We all know there’s only one King and His name is Jesus. Now that this virus has the entire world’s attention, I’m praying the LORD shows up in a way that people from around the globe will give Him glory.
This is why I am calling for the modern version of a good, old fashioned, 7pm Wednesday night prayer meeting. Join our church LIVE via this Facebook account and share your praises and prayer concerns in the live comments section (7pm EST, Wednesday, March 18). I hope to see my brothers and sisters from all over the world joining us. This way we can all see each other’s requests and lift our prayers to the Lord TOGETHER!
Feel free to invite friends and family as our ministry staff leads us in prayer. (We’ll keep leading these Wednesday night prayer meetings until the Coronavirus has subsided and we can all safely return to our normal ministry schedules.) There’s no reason to fear or feel alone as long as we have the Lord and each other!
In case you have been out of town or missed church the last couple of services, I have recently announced that I will be accepting a pastoral position in Tennessee. While Dee will be finishing her school year with her 2nd grade class, I will be going back and forth a bit between here and Murfreesboro until the end of May. In the meantime, I will be helping the shepherds and various committees at all three of our campuses as they prepare for the transition.
While the Kenova and HCC campuses operate under the same constitution, the leaders at FBC Ashland are independent from us from a legal/financial standpoint. However, the Ashland shepherds (and Mackey) have made clear that they want to stay in partnership, it’s just that they will not be sharing a pastor with us as I have been filling a Tri-role in the past.
Our FBC Kenova constitution now requires our nominating committee to choose seven representatives from our church as a search committee for the next Lead Pastor. In the interim, Jon Estes will be the interim preacher but the Shepherd chair, Dave Akers, as the per our shepherd by-laws, will be the direct report for all staff (basically he will roll into my role (catch my play on words there? Ha ha.). This will enable Jon to continue to do his job with overseeing the youth and young adult ministries and Dave, Joe, Danny, and Jerry will oversee everything else that I used to supervise.
May I also ask for your prayers. I know this is an odd time, I’m kind of in lame duck mode, but this is why for years I asked you to see me first as your friend and brother in Christ instead of primarily your pastor. If all I was to you was the man in the position of leadership, then sadly, our relationship is going to change dramatically. But if you see me first as a friend and brother in Christ, then nothing changes really, other than I’m not the guy in the pulpit every week. No matter what, we will always be family. You helped us raise our kids from the nursery on up, we cried together, laughed together, celebrated together, and mourned together. And with the convenience of social media and cell phones, there’s no reason to not stay in touch.
In closing, I want to reiterate what I said Sunday morning: In the last 15 years there has never been a greater need for stability among our church family. Now more than ever we need people to step up, keep attending services, stay involved in small groups, loving on one another, not forsaking the meeting of yourselves together. All the ministries and relationships of the church need to keep moving in the same direction, everybody pulling on the same rope. Honestly, nothing could disappoint me more if any of you leave the church at this time. That would just tell me you were only staying at Kenova because of me. But I think better of all of you. I believe you are here because you love Jesus and the other members of this church family and you will go right on doing what you do, loving God and each other, serving the body of Christ throughout Kenova and the Tri-State area. I believe you’ll give the next Lead Pastor a good look, and hopefully you will receive him as one of your Shepherds for the future. Whatever the case, be patient with the process. It’s all in God’s time.
See you Sunday, Steve
If you spend any amount of time around First Baptist Church of Kenova, you will be able to make one clear observation: we are passionate about missions! Our church as a whole dedicates approximately 1/3 of all funds directly to missions, locally and around the world! As a youth ministry, the Garage desires to ignite a passion in the next generation for the same priority! We strive to expose our students to the international mission field, that they too will have a heart for the nations. In June of 2020, a team of 28 students and leaders will be boarding a plane heading to Montego Bay, Jamaica, embarking on an 8-day journey of faith throughout the northwest side of this island country. Upon reaching Montego Bay, we will be traveling many miles by bus, away from the beautiful beaches and towering condos, to a very impoverished area of Jamaica called Martha Brae. There, we will have the opportunity to partner with a Jamaican church to share the Gospel in the streets, minister to orphans, and preach the Word in the local public schools, reaching hundreds of kids with the love of Christ. We will even have an opportunity to openly preach the Gospel at the high school of Usain Bolt, Olympic athlete and world record holder. On top of all that, we plan to carry pre-bagged dinners to homes, seeking opportunity to pray with families in need.
With crippling poverty rampant throughout the island, many children are left to survive on the streets through gangs, prostitution, or theft. There is not a strong sense of a family unit, where both mother and father are present in the raising of a child. Most children never know their father. The mother, if present, has to do whatever is necessary to provide for her family. My commitment to engage our students to be on-mission goes way deeper than taking them across the world to “paint a building” or “dig a ditch.” Though we are willing to tackle work projects, the focus of this mission trip is to prepare our students to open their own mouths and speak truth in love. A cup of water given to a person in need is a humanitarian work; A cup of water given with the goal of having an opportunity to share the freeing power of the Gospel…this is missions! We literally want to equip them to be missionaries! We truly believe that God will use this opportunity to mature and grow the faith of our students!
THIS SUNDAY is our "Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser" featuring Rick Ball’s famous Spaghetti. We will begin serving after Sunday School at 11:15am (for those who go to the early service) and will continue to serve until after the second service. TO-GO orders are available! Donations ONLY! All donations will directly go to help support our team. Whether praying or giving, thank you for ALL of your support!
- Jon Estes (Minister of Youth & Families)
If you haven’t accessed your FREE RightNow Media account, please go online and sign up today. There’s everything from 10-minute devotions, full-length sermons/Bible studies, small group materials, biblical children’s cartoons on just about every life subject you can imagine. As you can see from the comments below, lots of people are already utilizing this resource. Just listen to their comments!
Debbie Deerfield Motzer: I’m excited to have a whole library of Biblical studies right at my fingertips. Finally, something worthwhile on TV!
Craig Fountaine: Listen to it every morning for a spiritual wake up.
Courtenay Johnson: My daughter begs to watch Superbook each morning! I love the ability to turn on cartoons that are rooted in the gospel!
Mandy Turley: My que represents my current season...Growing stronger as a woman of faith, wife and mother. Something for every aspect of my life!
Zach Davis: Home, Work, and on the Go, Faithful guidance there when you need it.
Beth Cooney Smith: I’ve valued Nancy Guthrie’s knowledge of the Bible and was thrilled to see her teachings of the Old Testament included.
Here are the many different ways to get connected to RightNow Media:
- Through our website “FBCKenova.com”, click on “Resources” then “RightNow Media” and you will be taken to a page to set up your profile.
- Text “RightNow FBCKenova” to 41411 and a link will be sent to your phone to set up your profile.
- Use the camera on your phone or tablet to scan the QR code from the bulletin Sunday and you will be taken to a page to set up your profile.
- Still having problems? See Tony between 5-6pm Wednesday (in the gym) or Sunday evening between 5:45 and 6:15 or after Bible study and he will ensure you get connected.
Hey Church family. I just wanted to introduce you to our new full-time staff member, but really, you already know him. Blake Creasy and his wife Megan have been serving with us in our music department for a number of years but now he is taking over the administrative aspects of what Mackey Gaskin and Andy Honeycutt used to do. Having a full-time person on the church property is something we’ve missed since Vicki Riggs retired. With Blake, we will have someone on church grounds Monday through Thursday, 9am-4pm. Since we all work Sundays and many Saturdays, on Friday we try to give people some time off.
Overall, Blake will be responsible for general church administration, church financial accounting, and music administration. He’s also responsible for day-to-day supervision of office and janitorial personnel and for various forms of written communication to the congregation as well as the general operation of the church properties and facilities.
He will continue to schedule and develop volunteers for the worship team, tech team and choir as well as coordinating video and sound for the church services as well other church events.
Most importantly, Blake is a faithful servant of the Lord. Here’s what he has to say about his family and his new position, “Megan and I are so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity to be available full time for FBCK. We’ve had some big changes in our lives, one of which is the addition of our sweet baby boy Jeremiah Blake Creasy. We know that Jeremiah will be loved by our biological family, but also loved just the same by our church family. You all have blessed us so much already and we know that you will continue to bless us in this new position.”
In closing, I know you will make Blake feel most welcome in his new role. I have told him that in the same way Vicki held a similar position for over a decade, this can be a career role for him. Let’s all do what we can to help him learn this BIG job. His success is our success and will bring glory to the Lord.
I’m excited to share that our church will have access to an extensive, new video library called RightNow Media! It’s like the “Netflix of Video Bible Studies” and has a HUGE library of faith-based videos that you can access whenever and wherever you want-on your phone, iPad, computer, or at home on your TV.
As a church staff, we’re always looking for ways to help you develop and strengthen your faith. We believe that RightNow Media will be a tool to serve you as you live your faith at home, at work and in your neighborhood. RightNow Media has videos for everyone-kids, youth, parents, married couples, college students, single adults, working professionals-all aimed at helping you grow.
You will soon be receiving an official invitation email to give you FREE access to RightNow Media. If you don’t receive this email by the start of 1st service this Sunday, February 16th, check your mail filter (because it comes from RightNow’s system, it may have gotten caught there.)
PLEASE ENSURE I HAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.
Once you find the email, simply click the link, sign up for an account, and you’re all set to explore more than 20,000 videos. We pray that RightNow Media will be a blessing for you and your family!
Growing in Christ isn’t a Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening “thing”. When Steve preached Deuteronomy 6, I don’t remember him saying that we are to keep His commandments only on certain days but rather “all the days of your life.” We are to talk of them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise-always! With RightNow Media, you have an awesome tool to help you and your family with their walk with Christ!
I doubt there’s one person reading this article who doesn’t want to pass on their faith to the next generation. Whether it’s passing on your faith to a biological member of your family, or a desire to foster faith in a younger member of our church family, we all want to see those coming behind us embrace the faith we hold so dear.
As we discussed on Sunday, in Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Moses gave the Hebrew people 5 keys to passing down their faith to the next generation. Let’s look at those again.
Key #1: Authenticity. The #1 key to passing down your faith is having an authentic love for God in your own life. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all of your soul, and all of your might.” Moses is reminding the people that you cannot pass down a faith that you don’t first possess for yourself.
Key #2: Be in the Word for yourself. Moses told the people that God’s Word has to be on their hearts. He didn’t say, “on your leaders’ hearts.” He said, “on your heart.” The way we get God’s Word for ourselves is to read it for ourselves. Nothing beats personal study of the Word.
Key #3: Talk about it. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of talking about your faith. It’s been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that we should, “preach the gospel at all time and if necessary, use words.” I frankly don’t know if St. Francis said that or not, but the reality is this: the Bible commands us to use our words. Of course it’s good to serve others and to live like a follower of Christ, but part of following Christ’s example is doing what He did, and he made a habit of verbally sharing God’s Word with people.
Key #4. Make talking about your faith a part of your everyday lives. When we wake up, when we sit at home, when we drive along the way, and when we go to bed a night, Moses encourages us to talk about our faith throughout our day.
Key #5. Use visuals. Put up signs in your home. Paint the sayings of Scripture on your walls. Wear a wristband that reminds you of an encouraging verse. Whatever we can do to keep the truths of Scripture before our eyes, and the eyes of others, the more we’ll be effective in passing down our faith to the next generation.
Wikipedia defines a teaching hospital (or university hospital) as a hospital or medical center that provides medical education and training to future and current health professionals and that is involved in medical research. Teaching hospitals are often affiliated with medical schools and work closely with medical students throughout their period of matriculation, and especially during their clerkship (internship) years.
In other words, teaching hospitals make disciples.
A disciple is a learner. A disciple learns from someone more knowledgeable than themselves so they can eventually do what their teacher is able to do.
Assistant coaches learn from head coaches.
Assistant pastors learn from senior pastors.
But not only that…
Assistant AWANA leaders learn from experienced AWANA leaders.
New deaconesses learn from seasoned deaconesses.
Young ushers learn from older ones.
HERE’S MY POINT:
Everyone reading this either needs to be an assistant, that is, learning a new ministry skill
Everyone participating in a ministry needs to be teaching a less experienced person how to do whatever ministry you are doing now.
I want FBC Kenova to be known as the teaching church. The key to it happening is YOU!
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity holds that there is one God that exists in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Three Persons are distinct, yet are of one substance, nature and essence. None is more God than the other. They are all three equally God. At the same time, by virtue of their distinct person, each member of the Trinity has a differing role and function within the Godhead and the universe.
I realize that the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most difficult concepts for our finite minds to grasp. I believe that is why God created human beings in His image, with God’s original design for marriage being the best metaphor for how the Trinity functions. In order for us to be able to understand how the Godhead functions, God gave us Adam and Eve to model something for us in the seen (human marriage) so we can understand the unseen (the divine Trinity). We have to remember that for thousands of years of human history, there was no Bible. All we had was the family unit to show us who God is and how God operates.
Obviously, Adam and Eve did a poor job of modeling that for us. God’s design was for the two to become one flesh, and metaphorically just as the Trinity came together to create an image of God (Adam), when Adam and Eve would procreate they would create an image of God, that is, their child. It’s no accident that Jesus employed this metaphor as He called God His Father. The Spirit very often plays a maternal role. The Father is called a father and the Son is called a son so that we can get a picture of who God is. In other words, the Trinity is a singular family. Each member of the Family plays a different role within the family.
In the same way, the father, mother, and son (or daughter) in our earthly families play different roles as well. While Lucas has a different role in our home than I do, he is just as much a Willis as I am. He is equal to me in that he is a Willis. He is no more, and no less, a Willis than I am. It is the same for my wife, Dee. She’s 100% Willis now. Her kids at school call her Mrs. Willis. That’s her identity. Willis. That’s who we are.
No one would ever suggest that Lucas is a non-equal partner in the Willis family, that he is somehow a lesser Willis just because his role in our home is different than mine. In the same way, no one should suggest that Jesus the Son is less God than the Father is God because they have different roles within the Trinity. This is why good theology leads to good practice and bad theology leads to bad practice. Mom and Dad are equal but have different roles. The Holy Spirit and the Father are equal but have different roles. Knowing and understanding what the Bible teaches about the roles of each leads to a greater understanding of how we are to relate to each other as well.
I saw Shania Twain on a TV talk show this week. She was recalling her inspiration around her #1 hit, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”. As she and the TV hostess shared their feminine perspective, it became very obvious to me that women think about things that never cross a man’s mind. For example, I’ve never walked out of a mall and had to check around to ensure my surroundings were safe and I wasn’t being followed. I’ve never had a guy come into a room where it was just the two of us and experience fear that I would be sexually assaulted. I’ve never had a man (or woman) ask me if I needed to get my spouse’s permission before a medical procedure or a major purchase.
But women think about these things. They have to.
As we have walked our way through the life of Moses, several people have remarked to me how surprised they have been with regard to how practical the sermons have been. Even though the events took place 3400 years ago, on a different continent, in a completely different culture, the situations Moses dealt with were the same ones we deal with today. The human condition has not changed.
This Sunday we are going to examine another passage that is very applicable today: treating women fairly in a world where the culture doesn’t value them as equal to men. Moses made some amazing, groundbreaking decisions 3400 years ago, and the present-day issues are still the same. Please come with an open mind and a tender heart as we seek to promote women with the respect their Creator expects for them.
Have you ever had a “meeting place” with the Lord? Have you ever had a place that became the location where you would regularly go to seek Him? During my college years, I began serving the Lord at Twin Lakes Camp in Hillsboro, Indiana, and it was at that camp that I began to personally grow in my fellowship with Christ. My “meeting place” happened to be on the edge of the upper lake. As the sun began to peak over the flatlands of Central Indiana, I would daily sit in anticipation for what God would give to me that day. Every morning, before the campers would wake up, before the breakfast bell rang, before the campground came alive, I met with Jesus. No matter how tired I was from the constant activities of the day before, this time was something I looked forward to. It was real. It was intimate. It was personal. It was the first time in my life that I saw my morning devotions, not as a time to check off my daily Bible reading or rattle off a rehearsed prayer, but as a time entirely dedicated to meeting with Jesus.
The saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” Every summer, as the camp season would come to an end, I was faced with a flood of emotions as I recounted all the lessons God had taught me at that meeting place. Obviously, I was also faced with the realization that I would not be able to go to that place during the course of the coming school year. You can imagine that I missed my sunrise mornings by the lake with the Lord!
However, I quickly realized that the “meeting place” had very little to do with the literal location, but it had everything to do with His Word. The Word of God was my meeting place. Through the years, the Word of God has been “living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12) It has spoken truth boldly when I needed direction. (Psalm 119:105) It has rebuked and reproved me when I began to stray. (2 Timothy 3:16) It has spoken hope when I have been discouraged. (Proverbs 30:5) It has spoken acceptance, even when I felt rejected. (John 14:23) It has encouraged my faith when days seemed dark. (Psalm 105:81) It has echoed the praise of my heart when my heart was full of joy. (Psalm 19:7-8) It has constantly abided as a solid rock of truth, speaking into my life exactly what I needed for every situation of life. (John 8:31-32)
Wherever God may lead your steps in 2020, strive to find to YOUR “meeting place” in the Word...everyday! There is no greater joy and no greater priority!
Disarming. I just like that word. It’s a word that denotes peace. Dis-arm. Take the weapons away. No attack here. This place is safe.
There is nothing disarming about the adult Jesus. While He was full of grace and truth, sometimes His words were cutting. He addressed sin with the seriousness it deserved. He preached against selfishness, hatred, greed, and several other deadly sins. He was definitely not a “safe” Jesus.
But a baby in a manger is not all that intimidating. In fact, there’s nothing less threatening than a baby.
That’s why I think the Christmas season is the most disarming time of the year. It’s easy to get the warm fuzzies when you think about God becoming a child in the most humble of human forms and environments. The suffering servant, the Babe in the manger, is a resounding symbol of the selfless love of heaven.
So I’d like to encourage you to invite a friend to church either this Sunday and/or to one of our Christmas Eve services. This Sunday I’ll be sharing a very clear and compelling story about how the entire Old Testament is a testimony to the coming of the Baby Jesus. We’ll literally put the story of the Bible in a nutshell that anyone can understand.
The first tithe, the one we trace back to Abraham (Gen. 14:18-20), is the sacred tithe, given to the Levites and priests for their service to the temple and the congregation in the Old Testament. This is the tithe we continue to give under the priesthood of Melchizedek in the New Testament. It is the tithe consecrated to God and the furtherance of the gospel and has, therefore, validity for all believers in Christ. This is the storehouse tithe that we give to our local place of worship.
The second tithe is what I call the “party” tithe. I think it’s a good practice to try and set back 10% of your income for non-necessity items that are really more like luxuries. In the OT, the Jews used these Tithes as a combination religious feast/vacation tithe. The Levitical law required that a Jew had to go up to Jerusalem on certain occasions. In reality this religious ordinance included a definite social provision—periods of vacation for the family. And how should the head of the household provide for the vacation expense? By setting aside a second tithe, the one described in Deuteronomy 14:22-27, the tithe for the feasts. Thus the second tithe was dedicated to the good of man himself, for a vacation and specifically, a vacation that leads you closer to God. This tithe isn’t required today, but I still think it’s a good principle to spend 10% of your budget and just enjoy life with your friends and family. (Really, I think we spend WAY more than 10% on non-necessity items, but that’s a topic for another day.)
The third tithe was the tithe for the poor. According to our text in Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, this tithe was given only every third year.. This tithe, therefore, was for the neighbor who is down and out or for people doing ministry around you. Since this tithe was only required once every three years, it worked out to putting away 3.33% of your income for when you see a need around you. Again, in the New Testament we are told to give liberally, and I’m not so sure that giving just 3.33% of your income to the poor is liberal giving. Nevertheless, I think it’s a good starting point and hopefully you can give even more as the Lord prospers you.
In closing, with Compassion weekend approaching, I encourage each one of you to adopt a child through Compassion International. This is a great way to use part of your tithe for the poor. If you haven’t already signed up to go through the Compassion Experience in our gym, please call the church and reserve a spot. Merry Christmas and please remember, ‘Tis the Season to give.
Holiday season. Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Kwanza. Happy New Year’s. What do all these dates have in common?
EVERY year, I mean EVERY YEAR, I see the devil attack families at a high rate during the holiday season. It’s like we lose the ability to communicate with gentleness and respect. I cannot remember a holiday season where someone doesn’t do something to break someone’s heart. And it’s a shame.
Just remember, your family is not your enemy, the devil is. Bathe the holidays in prayer and ask God to protect your families from conflict this season. Jesus is the reason for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. Nothing makes Satan happier than robbing families of their Prince of Peace. Refuse to be offended or be used as a tool of disunity. Be peacemakers around the dinner tables during the holidays! Love and care, love and care. Gentleness and respect.
Rom. 12:18. Live it!
A few weeks ago, I closed my sermon with an exhortation of how we are to communicate with our loved ones when we have a disagreement. I have found that couples who follow these principles tend to argue much better, and consequently resolved issues better than those who have no ground rules for an argument. If you can, follow these biblical guidelines when you have a disagreement with someone you love.
1. Cool down. (Ps. 37:8; Prov. 29:11; Eph. 4:26-27; 29-31)
2. Pick a time and place for resolution; don’t be passive. (Heb. 12:14-15)
3. Pray together beforehand that you will be willing to forgive (Luke 17:3)
4. Take turns listening without interrupting (James 1:19; Prov. 18:2, 13)
5. Take responsibility for your own emotions. No one MAKES you feel anything. “When you do this, I feel _____________” (Prov. 16:32)
6. Avoid terms like “Always” and “Never” (also drop “nothing, whatever, you’re just like your parent, you’re too sensitive, don’t take it personally”
7. Repeat what you just heard before you respond to their words. (Prov. 1:5; 19:20; 25:12)
8. Keep the argument about a single subject. (2 Tim. 2:16; 23-24)
9. Leave the past out of it (Isa. 43:18; Phlp. 3:13b; 1 Cor. 13:5)
10. Leave the kids out of it (Matt. 18:5-7)
If you’ve done all ten, and there’s not peace, get a mediator ASAP. (Prov. 15:22; Matt. 5:9; Sometimes Matt. 18:15-20)
And finally, remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10-20). This person is not your enemy, the devil is. He is the author of disunity. God is the author of peace.
I pray that we all become peacemakers, but especially during this holiday season.
A couple of weeks ago we had almost 700 people attending worship services just at our Kenova campus. We had almost 700 people worshiping our Lord and being spiritually fed through the message He sent us through Steve (thank you for the PG-13 heads up). Another avenue that we are fed spiritually is through Sunday school. We had almost 350 in Sunday school on the 10th.
Why am I sharing this you might ask? Simply put, we had 350 people receiving “information” and another 350 people receiving double “information”. Don’t get me wrong, getting this information will help us grow spiritually but if it stops there, we have a strong chance of being like the first 3 seeds in Jesus’ parable. The Word is heard but 1. “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the work, making it unfruitful”, 2. “have no root and last only a short time”, or 3. “Satan comes and take away the word that was sown in them”. (Mark 4:1-20)
Christianity Today shared “We’re too often concerned only with conversion and “information” download, and we don’t take community and relationship-based discipleship seriously enough”. They continue with “I find that a lot of Christian discipleship deals with what you need to know, not who you need to be with”.
So how do we move from information receivers only to discipleship and growth? Simply, get plugged in to a small group. The early church “got it”, meeting in small groups in homes. We have almost 300 people at Kenova that “get it” and are plugged in to a small group.
The Great Commission doesn’t say “Sit therefore and hear the message” but rather “Go therefore and make disciples…”
CT closes with “If you want your church to be on mission, teach it from the pulpit and equip your people to wrestle with it in small groups”. Surround yourself with a small group that will help you grow strong roots and be that good soil. Let us all be on mission for Jesus.
OCC Shoebox collection week is November 18th-25th; this is a valued ministry to share the love of Jesus, through a packed shoebox for a child & for the child and their family to learn of Jesus’s love for them; What can you do?
1-Pray, pray, pray for this ministry, pray for the child receiving the shoebox, and pray for all of the volunteers that make this possible!
2-Pick up a shoebox (or shoeboxes) in the OFH, Welcome Center, or Sanctuary. See the list/brochure of how to pack and label.
3-Write a brief note to the child, or simply a “Jesus Loves You”, is great!
4-If you are able, place your shipping donation ($9.00) inside the box; you can secure your shipping label online, place a check made payable to Samaritan’s Purse, and/or place cash in envelope provided.
5-Pray over your shoebox.
6- Place your OCC shoebox in OFH, on left side of stage. Deadline to return shoeboxes is Sunday, November 24th.
7-You can also participate in this ministry by making a donation for the shoebox items and/or shipping; check can be made to FBCK and given to Robyn Picha or Sarah Maynard;
Please contact us for any questions. Thank you!
I’d like to share a couple of Scriptures with you this week. The first is from King David and the next is from the Son of David, the Messiah, King Jesus.
Ps. 133. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
In Exodus 30, God tells Moses to anoint Aaron the High Priest and his sons with a special concoction of holy oil. In the process, Moses would pour this fragrant oil, kind of like soapy mixture, to ensure the priests were clean and had a pleasant aroma about them.
It is to this oil that King David compares unity among believers in Psalm 133. This good smelling oil flows from the top of the spiritual leaders’ heads like when water falls on a high mountain and trickles to the sea. When the leaders get along, it trickles down to the people underneath their spiritual guidance. If there’s not unity among the leaders, there’s nothing to trickle down to the valley below.
In another symbolic gesture, Jesus washed His disciples from the bottom up. He taught us something about leadership in that you have to use your position for the sake of serving others and building up those around you. In John 13, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. In other words, servant leadership comes from the bottom up.
And this was Jesus’ exact prayer for the church and its leaders right after He washed His disciples’ feet. “My prayer is not for them [the 12 disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
You see, when the leaders of a home, or a church, or a business, whatever the organization or institution, whenever they operate in loving submission to one another, washing each other’s feet, the world will see it and know there’s something special going on there. According to Jesus, that’s when the world will see our witness and hear our message that Jesus loves them … but only after they see that we love and serve one another in unity.
“There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:9-10
Sabbath rest is a concept that began during the first week of human existence. The magnificence of His work during those six days of creation is overwhelming. I love how the wording in Genesis 1:16 displays how great our God is when it said that “God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day (Sun) and the lesser light to rule the night (Moon).” Then, almost like an after-thought, it says, “and the stars.” Are you kidding me?! In the re-telling of creation, three words were used to testify of the billions and billions of stars that were created! When you walk outside at night and see the glory of God displayed through the heavens, consider that nothing is too hard for God! We go out and work in the yard for a day and we get tired, but God can create billions and billions of stars, most of which we cannot see with our human eyes, but yet our God “never sleeps nor slumbers.” So why did God rest on the seventh day? God presented a pattern for His creation, that we all need rest. Every living creature must rest from labor. Jesus even said in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man…” We need it!
But keep in mind, Sabbath rest is not just speaking of physical rest. To born-again believers, “Sabbath rest” means something more. It’s even more than a day of the week that we set aside. It’s more than taking naps and getting rest. We rest from our “works” daily and trust in what Christ has accomplished on His cross. My righteousness (or right-standing with God) is not dependent on “my works,” but solely rests in the work of Christ on His cross. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “there is rest available for the people of God,” but the only way that it can be accessed, is by faith. “For we who have believed enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:3) This is the “rest” of the Gospel! It is by grace that you have been saved; not a result of your “works,” so that no one can boast!
If you listen to Christian radio, you’ll get daily reminders that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Well, for us our schedule was too jammed in October to celebrate it, so we just declared November to be Kenova’s staff appreciation month (ha ha!).
This church has always been kind to our staff, especially in showing appreciation for our work for the Lord. I greatly value our staff on all three campuses. But as Lead Pastor, for this year in particular, I want to especially commend the Kenova team. As I’m sure you know, in the past year we’ve had some major staff departures, but when I approached the remaining Kenova staff about re-configuring their job descriptions, each of them enthusiastically accepted. I can honestly say that in nearly 21 years on the job, I’ve never seen our staff be so flexible and selfless in a transition period.
We’ve been fortunate at Kenova because our staff turnover has occurred at less than half the rate of most churches our size. In 2017, our average full-time staff member had been serving here for 8 years. That’s unheard of. The average staff member serves at a church just under three years. We were almost triple that! But now the winds of change have blown, and staff re-configurations have become the norm.
Let me begin by praising Tony Cicenas. He’s now our senior support staff member. Tony graciously took on the responsibility of overseeing both small groups AND children. Never a complaint from him. He’s a worker.
As I write this, it strikes me that Jeramie Wells is our next most senior member of the staff. She keeps all of us in order as our front office secretary. John Muncy has done a yeoman’s job, in that, while already serving as a youth intern, he became the de facto youth pastor during the summer months. I thank God for Blake Creasy as he continues to be the behind-the-scenes extraordinaire, spinning several plates on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.
Speaking of spinning plates, Mackey Gaskin stepped up to help at Ashland this fall in addition to still overseeing our young adult ministry and church finances. Wow.
New members this year are Jon Estes with the youth, Casey Moore has been a God-send as assistant children’s director, and Hunter Bellomy has joined the youth team as middle school intern. (And it’s hard to say how thankful I am for our housekeeping staff (Helen and Mary) for doing what they can to keep up with all the activity in the church facilities. There’s literally something going on down here every day.)
Probably the most visible position staffing change has been Nick Joyce. Nick now runs the Ashland-Kenova gauntlet with me on Sunday mornings as he leads worship on both campuses. Wow. Just wow. So thankful for him.
When you look back at all the transition we’ve experienced in the last year, it’s only by the grace of God that it hasn’t appeared like total chaos. I won’t lie to you. It hasn’t been easy. Without a doubt it’s been the most taxing year of my ministry life. It’s probably felt that way for several of our people. And to be honest, it’s probably felt that way for our families as well. I cannot express to you, and it’s impossible to know unless you’ve lived it, the sacrifice our families make, not only due to our irregular schedules, but due to the fact that all of us are on call 24/7. We can take a day off physically, but our minds and spirits never get a break.
In closing, I want to thank our lay shepherds as they are the sounding boards and support system for every major decision I make. Dave Akers, in particular, has seen his own role as visitation pastor heavily modified since he’s had to jump back into the pizza business over the last couple of months. In addition to the ministry load he’s carried at the church; Rocky Tops Pizza out Buffalo Creek is his own 24/7 responsibility. What can I say?
All I know is that I thank Jesus for His sustenance and His good gift of a servant-minded congregation that could have been a bunch of complainers while the right hand was figuring out what the left hand was doing. Instead of complaining you’ve stepped up and volunteered all the more! We are still a work in progress (I guess it never ends), but somehow by the grace of God, between our three campuses we’ve baptized about as many people this year as any year in our past. To God, and God alone, be the glory! Amen!
Hey church family. Just wanted to thank you all for turning out for unity/missions night. The combo worship band/choir was a blessing and though we don't yet have the exact count for the Ethiopian missions offering, at the point we are around 16k toward our goal of $20,000.
I also appreciate Sanibel Recovery House coming and their response to Jeff Allen's powerful testimony of Christ's grace in his life. I do want to apologize for some of the jokes that were a bit irreverent, but at the same time, the way the Lord turned the night at the end, well, the Spirit was definitely present in the room. We had a number of first-time decisions and recommitments to Christ, and I'm still following up with others.
I need to commend our mission committee and all those who brought international desserts to share. The fellowship between all three congregations at the end was priceless. Thank you all for your witness and hearts for the Lord Jesus and be praying for those that made decisions to walk more closely with Him.
In closing, I want to prepare you for Sunday morning. There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes at our church, and I feel like I need to inform the entire congregation where we are and where I believe we need to go next. We will be looking at Exodus 17-18 and our vision for the future will flow out of those passages. Looking forward to Sunday! It’s a great time to be serving the Lord in the Tri-state area!
There are lots of commands in the Bible. God gives us directions for life on almost every page. But unfortunately, I don’t know that I’ve ever taught our church the importance of laughter. We talk about giving to one another, praying with one another, and bearing one another’s burdens, but I also think we don’t LAUGH with one another nearly as much as we should. Consider the following Scriptures.
- “To everything there is a season … a time to weep and a time to laugh” – Ecc. 3:4
- When the LORD restored the captives of Zion, we were like dreamers. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy.” – Ps. 126:1-2.
- He [God] will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with a shout of joy. – Job 8:21
- Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” Gen. 21:6
- A joyful heart is good medicine. Prov. 17:22a
I especially like that last one. It’s good medicine for the heart when people laugh. It’s even better medicine, I think, when we laugh together.
So church family, this Sunday night we are going to choose to laugh together. We’ve got one of the best comedians in the country coming through our town and this guy will make you laugh. You may have seen Jeff Allen on Comedy Central, VH-1, Showtime, TBN, CBN, Family Net and numerous other television networks. He can be heard regularly on SiriusXM’s comedy channels, also Pandora and Spotify. He has performed for our troops on aircraft carriers and ships in the Indian Ocean. He’s on the fastest growing comedy internet sensation, DryBar Comedy where Jeff has surpassed 30 million views on Facebook and YouTube in a very short span of time. Jeff has also produced and starred in his own sitcom pilot for Castlerock Television and in the critically acclaimed films, “Apostles of Comedy.” Best of all, Jeff is a believer and has an incredible testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness in his life.
At the time of this publication, we still have around 100 tickets remaining so be sure to get a ticket and reserve a seat for this Sunday night. The event begins at 6pm so I suggest you arrive no later than 5:50pm. Also, please come prepared to give an offering to support our college students heading overseas to share the Gospel in Ethiopia. It’s going to be a great night church family. And don’t forget the command for the night: THOU SHALT LAUGH!
Too often tragedy must come our way before we get our focus on Jesus and off the things of the world. In my personal experience, people have to hit rock bottom, or close to it, for them to be willing to listen to God. Things like…
… a child not doing well in life
… the inability to conceive a child
… losing a job
… a bad report from the doctor
… your spouse asking for a divorce
… going through withdrawal symptoms
… unexpected bills
… constant fighting with a friend or family member
… failing a test
… not being able to find a date
… a friend betraying you
The list can go on and on. Sadly, it often takes things like these to get us on our knees and show our dependence on God. It’s only when we lose control that we are reminded that we never really were in control in the first place. God has an uncanny way of reminding us that He is God and we are not!
But it doesn’t always have to be this way. If we can learn humility and dependence upon Christ, then maybe God doesn’t have to send negative things our way as often as it seems. I encourage you today: Examine your life. What are some idols that take your heart and mind off of God and onto the temporary things of this short life? Are we making our kids, our jobs, our friends, our marriages into idols that can never fulfill us like only our Creator can?
This Sunday is communion. I want to encourage you to do some self-examination and confess all your known (and even unknown) sin. Make peace, inasmuch as it is up to you, with every one in your life. This life is too short to hold a grudge and carry on as if we are in control of our everyday lives.
As we announced last week, for our missions conference this October, our three campuses will be joining together as a combo missions/unity night. On Sunday, October 13th at 6pm, we will be singing for joy and joining in laughter with one of the nation’s funniest comedians, Jeff Allen. (See our Facebook page for some of his hilarious videos!)
Jeff has been on national venues like Comedy Central, Showtime, and VH1, but has agreed to stop by our small town because he believes in the cause for which we need to raise over $50,000 by next spring.
As part of our partnership with our Christian Aid organization, SENAI International, many of our college students and young adults have been invited on a goodwill tour of Muslim villages in Ethiopia. Most of our short-term missionaries have a background as soccer athletes and will be competing with local Ethiopian soccer teams. While our students interact with their young adults, they will have the opportunity to share Christ and provide some humanitarian assistance to this group who digs water wells and promotes good will between Christian and Muslim communities. Our mission organization has seen over 10,000 Muslims receive Christ over the past few years, and more and more we are making inroads to people who have never heard the gospel. Not only is this a fantastic opportunity to spread the love of Christ, it will surely make an impact on our college students as well.
Our mission committee does not want anyone to be left out, so while this is a ticketed event, we will be giving the tickets away at no cost with the understanding that there will be a suggested donation of $30 per person. We know some will need to give less but some can give much more as 100% of the proceeds from the offering we collect that night will go to send our students on this mission trip. Please consider giving whatever you can to support our kids.
Tickets will be available starting this Sunday and you are welcome to invite friends from outside of our church. The main thing is that we want a packed house to come out and be a part of what should be our biggest night of the year.
There are some things people were just born to do.
For Beethoven, even though he lost his sense of hearing, he still wrote several masterpieces because God gave him perfect pitch. He could hear the notes in his head. He didn’t need his ears.
Roger Federer, in my opinion, is the best tennis player ever. The guy has more championships than anyone. He can play 4 straight hours of grueling competition and not even look like he has broken a sweat.
Michael Phelps is long and lean. His feet are wide and long like natural flippers. His torso is abnormally shaped to give him extra thrust with each swimming stroke he takes. No wonder he has more gold medals than anyone in history. I don’t know about you, but I’m not one of those guys. God didn’t give me a natural ability or physical build that makes me the best in the world at anything. I’m not even the best of anything in my own country.
But the Bible isn’t filled with stories of people who were the best of everything. It’s filled with people like you and me, average talents, maybe even below average, yet God shows up and does miraculous things through these very common people. The Apostle Paul said it this way. “Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor. 1:26-27)
So the next time you feel like Moses and you want to give God all your excuses why you’re inadequate to do something the Bible tells you to do, remember that God made you who you are. You’re not too fat, too skinny, too poor, too dumb, too ugly, too backwards, too _________ to do whatever God calls you to do. Just like Moses, as long as God is with you, you can be whatever God calls you to be, go where He calls you to go, and succeed in whatever task He directs you.
Did you know that in
2020 we are sending over 20 college students as short-term
missionaries/ambassadors to Muslim villages in Ethiopia? Over Marshall’s
spring break, students and sponsors from HCC, Kenova, FBC Ashland will take the
gospel where it has literally never been preached before! How? Through a
soccer ball. Our students will be forming a team to travel around
villages to share Christ throughout southern Ethiopia.
But the trip is not cheap. So we’re going to do one of the biggest FUNdraisers ever, with an emphasis on FUN!
Through a stroke of blessing and sovereign coordination, we are catching one of America’s funniest comedians, Jeff Allen, coming through Kenova on his fall tour. Jeff has been on NBC’s late night, Fox, Comedy Central, Showtime, and several other nationally known venues. He’s not a “Christian” comedian, he’s a comedian who is a Christian and he was willing to come in and help us raise money to take the gospel and partner with ministries that put in water wells throughout Ethiopia. I’ve personally heard Jeff on a couple of occasions and he’s one of the funniest, if not THE funniest guys I’ve ever heard do standup comedy.
So mark your calendars for a Unity Night/Missions Conference combo as all three congregations join together for a night of laughter and generosity. SUNDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 13th @ 6:30PM. Let’s pack it out church!
Hello! My name is Jonathan Estes, but most people just call me “Jon.” I was born outside of Erie, PA in a small town called Corry, PA and grew up just across the state line in the cow-towns of Clymer and Sherman, NY. As a Junior in high school, while at a youth conference in Buffalo, NY, the Lord showed me that, even though I grew up in church and said a “salvation prayer” as a child, I was lost. I realized that I was trusting in a prayer to save me, and had never actually placed my trust in Christ. That weekend, I gave my life to Christ and was born again.
Starting in 2000, I attended Cedarville University, pursuing a major in Music Education and a minor in Bible, with the ultimate desire of becoming a Band Director. However, while serving as a counselor at Twin Lakes Camp in Hillsboro, IN, God powerfully redirected my life and called me into full-time ministry. After serving as an interim Music Minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Plainfield, IN during my senior year of college, the Lord opened the door to serve as the Minister of Music & College at FBC of South Point, OH. It was during my time in South Point that God uniquely provided me with the love of my life, Brandi. We were married on October 8, 2005 at Solida Baptist Church, which was the home church from her childhood. We served 4 years at FBC South Point, and during that time, we were engaged in the community through the Marshall campus ministries, sports ministries, and area symphonic bands, ironically including the C-K Alumni Band.
In August of 2008, the Lord opened the door for Brandi and I to move to McDonough, GA and I joined the staff at Henry Baptist Church to serve as the Music Pastor. Sensing a strong calling to preach, teach, and make disciples, I accepted the position of Student Ministry Pastor in January of 2012. Over the last 7½ years, we have poured our lives into reaching and discipling the students of Henry County and have seen our ministry grow numerically, but far more importantly, grow spiritually. We are truly excited about the opportunity to join FBCK, beginning October 1 in reaching the youth in the Tri-State! God has richly blessed us with three boys & a baby girl: Jadon Anaiah (2010), Josiah Alan (2011), Jeremiah Asher (2013) & Lillian Grace (2016).
This Sunday the Council of Shepherds will be presenting an associate minister who will focus on youth and family ministry. I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little about him and give you some info about his time with us this weekend.
Jon graduated high school in 2000 and has a wife and four children. He graduated from Cedarville University and immediately began serving a local church leading worship and overseeing youth ministries. He is currently leading a youth ministry about the same size as our youth ministry at a church just a bit smaller than FBC Kenova. He has had extensive missions experience and because of his close ties to this area, he understands the culture of the Tri-State area. Theologically, he’s an excellent fit for our congregation.
If he comes, I plan to groom him to be a lead pastor someday. If the fit is right, I can even see him becoming lead pastor here when God calls me to hang up my cleats. He still has some work to do as far as theological education goes, but with my Ph.D. and through my connections to our seminaries, I’ll be able to oversee most of the completion of his master’s level work.
We want to give our church family (especially the parents, teens, and Pit Crew members), as much opportunity as possible to get to know him his Sunday. Here is his schedule for the weekend.
9:00am Jon preaches first service
10:20am Jon and his wife will share their testimony over in the Garage. Afterwards,
parents, teens, and Pit Crew can ask some “get-to-know-you” questions.
11:30am Jon preaches second service
5:30pm Jon and his wife will join our youth group for a progressive dinner. This will give
everyone an opportunity to just hang out and spend some time together.
At the end of the weekend, the Shepherds will collect feedback from segments of the congregation and decide whether or not to present Jon with a call to ministry here. As a support staff position, this will not require a church-wide congregational business meeting. The main thing we need from you is just your feedback as to their “fit” for our congregation. (I do want to make clear that we are not voting on him as one of our pastors at this time. That would not come for at least two years.)
All that said, I hope you will be blessed by his visit this weekend. Let us all be in prayer together as we pray God will reveal His will to us.
This Sunday night we are going to have a special guest join us in our gymnasium. Bob Holmes, known as the One Man Volleyball Team is going to compete as one man against our entire Pit Crew and church volleyball team. Bob holds the world record for Most Volleyball Games played and has spoken before over 6,000,000 students and adults across the world.
Bob grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Bob has a family, a wife and 3 girls. His compassion for others keeps him on the road across the country getting out the message that you too can "Beat the Odds". He really wasn't much of an athlete. In fact, Bob was a very shy person. He never played volleyball in high school or college.
Bob did a lot of traveling which caused him to develop a bad back. His doctor recommended that he get more exercise and it was at that time that Bob began playing volleyball with a friend in their backyard. "We played 3 or 4 times a week, usually after evening programs," he remembers. "After watching the famed Globetrotters entertain a crowd and seeing the joy they brought to young people, I came up with the idea of a one-man volleyball team. This way, I could demonstrate to people that they can beat the odds just as I was doing on the court."
At the age of 29, Bob called a high school principal in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. "I had a meeting planned there and asked if I could play a few games, just by myself, against the kids and another game against the faculty. No doubt, the principal thought that I wouldn't have a chance, so he said yes. I played the students and the faculty, had a lot of fun and won. After that, I called another school and before I knew it, I had 11 schools lined up."
Bob now travels around the country sharing the encouraging word that every life has value, especially emphasizing to students that suicide is never the answer to life's problems. I hope you'll come out, bring some friends with you, and hear how this man's ministry is touching the world around us.
I came to Kenova at age 29. Dee and I had just completed our 3rd year of full-time youth ministry in Oak Hill, West Virginia. We started there at the end of 1995 with a youth group of eight kids and saw it grow to an average of 60. In our last year there we baptized over 25 teenagers which put our church in the top 5 in the state for baptisms. Sadly, our leaders didn’t count many of them because they didn’t join our church in membership.
Rarely do I speak of the events that led to my departure from Oak Hill, frankly because they weren’t positive and it wouldn’t do any good to bring up past hurts. I had no intention of leaving those kids until I saw my original group of 6th graders graduate from high school. I made a 6-year commitment to the youth group when I first came but I learned from that experience that you shouldn’t promise people things that might end up being out of your control. I remember when one of the younger kids heard that I was resigning they said, “But you promised to stay until I graduated!” I felt like a liar but at the time I couldn’t explain that me leaving really wasn’t up to me. The leadership wanted an associate pastor and all I wanted to do was work with youth. Even though working with youth is what I came there to do, the vision changed, and like a good soldier I quietly began taking phone calls from churches who wanted someone who would just focus on youth.
One of those phone calls came from Ron McClung, the new senior pastor at FBC Kenova. At the time, I did not want to leave Oak Hill. To this day I miss the trout fishing that was literally right out my back door, our home in the woods, and the extensive trails of the New River Gorge that was minutes from our home.
But God used that difficult time in my life, perhaps my most difficult time, to get me to the place where I am today. As I turn 50 years old this week, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my nearly 21 years at FBC Kenova, and I can truly say that what others did to cause me harm, God intended for good, and for the saving of many souls. I’ve had the privilege of baptizing nearly a thousand people, spoken directly to a million souls, dedicated hundreds of babies to the Lord, and shared the gospel with over 10 million people through TV and social media. Not only that, this church has loved on my family beyond our ability to imagine.
I write this messenger on the eve of my 50th birthday, and I want to remind you, and myself, that God knows what he is doing even when we are going through suffering. Today, I thank Him for those who had a different vision than I had. Were they right? I don’t know. I just know that I’m glad that God put me here. In His time. In His way.
So thankful that God is in control. And I am not.
As we discussed on Sunday, there are approximately 100 “one another” commands
in the New Testament. One-third of them are some form of the command to
“love one another.” The other 2/3s are HOW we are to love one
another. Take note of these and apply them to how you love your church
Serve one another: Galatians 5:13; 21; Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 4:9; 5:5
Accept one another: Romans 15:7, 14
Strengthen one another: Romans 14:19
Help one another: Hebrews 3:13; 10:24
Encourage one another: Romans 14:19; 15:14; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25
Care for one another: Galatians 6:2
Forgive one another: Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
Submit to one another: Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5
Commit to one another: 1 John 3:16
Build trust with one another: 1 John 1:7
Be devoted to one another: Romans 12:10
Be patient with one another: Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13
Be interested in one another: Philippians 2:4
Be accountable to one another: Ephesians 5:21
Confess to one another: James 5:16
Live in harmony with one another: Romans 12:16
Do not be conceited toward one another: Romans 13:8
Do not pass judgment on one another: Romans 14:13; 15:7
Do not slander one another: James 4:11
Instruct one another: Romans 16:16
Greet one another: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:12
Admonish one another: Romans 5:14; Colossians 3:16
Spur one another on toward love and good deeds: Hebrews 10:24
Meet with one another: Hebrews 10:25
Agree with one another: 1 Corinthians 16:20
Be concerned for one another: Hebrews 10:24
Be humble toward one another in love: Ephesians 4:2
Be compassionate toward one another: Ephesians 4:32
Do not be consumed by one another: Galatians 5:14-15
Do not anger one another: Galatians 5:26
Do not lie to one another: Colossians 3:9
Do not grumble toward one another: James 5:9
Give preference to one another: Romans 12:10
Be at peace with one another: Romans 12:18
Sing to one another: Ephesians 5:19
Be of the same mind to one another: Romans 12:16; 15:5
Comfort one another: 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11
Be kind to one another: Ephesians 4:32
Live in peace with one another: 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Carry one another's burdens: Galatians 6:2
Hi Church Family! My name is Casey Moore and I was recently hired on to assist Tony with Children’s ministry. For those of you who may not know me, my husband, Juston “Pup” Moore and I joined as members of FBCK in 2014 right after we got married. We will celebrate our 5th anniversary on August 30. We have since had three children, Lydia (3), Clara (2), and Christian (4 months). Pup grew up in Kenova and I grew up “Out Wayne” and we have landed right in the middle on Rt. 75 to raise our family.
For the past 6 years I have worked for Wayne County Schools as an elementary teacher and just recently resigned my position to be more available to my own children. My background is in elementary education and leadership studies and it is my hope to be able to use that to help love on children and support families here at FBCK and in our community for as long as I’m needed.
There’s no better “orientation to Children’s Ministry” than your first full week being VBS, but WOW what a week it was! We saw huge numbers on the first day, but as the children poured in so did the volunteers. What an awesome reminder of God’s provisions for us. We cannot express enough how grateful we are to every individual who helped love on children and show Christ’s love throughout the week. I was especially encouraged by our youth volunteers who selflessly gave up pretty summer evenings to pour in to our kids. It was a beautiful picture of a multi-generational church with a goal to glorify God.
With that being said, if you see me running around please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. If you have a passion for children and want to get plugged in somewhere let me know! The harvest is plenty and we are always in need of workers for the field. We have so many exciting things to look forward to as the new school year quickly approaches so I ask that you be in prayer for my family and me as we transition in to this new season of life. For now, we are finding comfort in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This summer has been a whirlwind of ministry. FBC Ashland kicked off summer ministries with a fantastic Bible school serving kids from throughout the Ashland community. The following week our youth group went to South Carolina to do service projects in the Myrtle Beach area, to learn from Bible teaching, and to share Jesus with hundreds of vacationers at the beach.
Then camp season kicked in. Over the course of the summer we sent over 100 kids and 30 counselors to Camp Cowen. Lives were changed and Jesus was lifted up.
This week, HCC is doing a day camp at the A.D. Lewis Center and they had over 100 students and volunteers ministering to that part of our community. At our Kenova campus, we’ve had record numbers at VBS, not just in children attending, but in teen and adult volunteers to make it happen. A big THANK YOU to volunteer servants at all three campuses. None of this would be possible without you!
Finally, I want to thank all of those who have served for the past 5+ years under Jeremy Napier’s leadership. Jeremy built an awesome group of adult volunteers and equipped a talented youth leadership team as well. It would be impossible to list all the awesome things we’ve seen through that ministry since he and Sharon moved to town.
That said, you should know that we are praying and working diligently to have a full-fledged youth ministry program this fall. The team is still in place, we have over 20 returning seniors to help lead in the Garage, Jesus is still on the throne and FBC Kenova will continue to lift up the name of Christ in the Tri-State area.
In the meantime, we are still praying through staffing for our music ministry, our youth ministry, and our ministry with FBC Ashland. Thankfully Mrs. Casey Moore has come on part-time to assist Tony Cicenas with children’s ministry while Tony takes on some of Josh’s responsibilities with small groups.
It’s been said that if there’s one thing in life that is constant that it is CHANGE. Well, while I’m sure that’s generally true, we are experiencing more than our fair share right now. Even still, this is the time that I know we will see even more volunteers step up into leadership positions for the fall. We’ve been through transitions before, and as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, I’m sure God will continue to be glorified as we shine as lights in the Tri-State area.
Sunday, July 21- Thursday, July 25.
Snack Supper begins at 5:15pm; VBS begins at
6:00pm. Please contact Tony Cicenas or Casey Moore to reserve the area in which God has most gifted you-first come first
serve. Garage teen volunteers needed!
Many people think the Apostle Paul may have neglected developing close relationships with men and women in the body of Christ. He was a Type A personality, always on the move and highly motivated to spread the gospel.
However, in Romans 16, he mentions about 34 believers by name! A huge deal not to be neglected in our study! He refers to memorable instances in which he and they, together, endured life struggles and acted with innovation in their specific life circumstances to see that Jesus message of salvation spread throughout the ancient world.
In a like manner to Paul, this past Sunday I gave my final message as a staff member of 15 + years with First Baptist Kenova. It’s one of the most sobering moments of my adult life. I took time in that message to “adapt” the 16th chapter of Romans into a present day letter from me to FBC Kenova (HCC and Ashland as well).
In this last Messenger article, I simply want to reiterate how deeply I love you all! This congregation gave me my first roll in vocational ministry; my first full-time position as the youth pastor from 2005 - 2012; and service part-time as the Minister of Worship and Small groups since 2012! You’re the only church body I have ever served!
It has been a joy! Not every moment was joyful … that goes without really needing said. But, my goodness First Baptist Kenova… I have nothing but joyful, memorable, heart-warming appreciation for you and the journey we have walked together for over nearly 16 years.
Steve graciously made it evident that Sunday was not my last time leading worship with you. And it certainly isn’t the last time we’ll be with you. My full-time role at Simpson Creek Baptist Church in Bridgeport is less than 3 hours from here! You better believe it … we have already made plans to be back here on weekends in the Fall, for biological and church family special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. And we will be praying for the ministry of FBCK, FBC Ashland, and HCC everyday.
Paul said in Philippians 1:3 - I thank my God every time I remember you in my prayers.” The assumed idea is that Paul was regularly praying for the Church in Philippi. The Sowards family will be praying for you, just as he did… and all the more often.
I. Love. You! I want to write words that have zero cliche, church family. But, there’s nothing new under the sun! So, with thanks for all the blessings you’ve shared with my family - my seminary education, my partnership with every single staff member, my years of truly deep relationships with “grandmas and grandpas”, “aunts and uncles”, and dear, dear brothers and sisters in Christ … for your love of my wife and my girls ...There’s no more original thing I could say than, Thank you! I love you! And I will always remember you in my prayers … by name!
We’ll shoot out our new address as soon as the Lord closes the deal on our new home! You’re ALL welcome! It’s a wide-open invitation...that I mean! You’re ALL welcome … anytime!
Here’s to the time Christ gives us all to bring the nations to obedience in Christ!
--Josh, Dez, Aslyn, Lila, and Gwen!
As we close out our “WHO’S YOUR ONE?” series, let us remember that the month of June was a training month. We were training our people how to pray for an individual who needs Jesus. You can keep praying those prayers over and over again, making a time of praying for lost souls a part of your daily lives.
May I make a confession to you? I am not the best at giving things to God. Too often I see myself as God’s employee instead of seeing myself as one of His children. I happily go to work for my Boss every day, but God wants to be more than my boss, He IS much more than my boss, He is my Father and friend.
When I view God as my Boss I tend to follow His orders. And I do it happily because I love my boss. But when the Boss gives me a task, I rarely talk to Him or ask for His help in accomplishing that duty. I think being a good employee means I get the orders, then I go out and accomplish my orders, not bothering my Boss with the details of the day. I want to handle those tasks on my own. I want to show the Boss that I don’t need His help. I am responsible and trustworthy. “Just leave it to me, Boss, I’ll take care of it!”
But that’s now how it’s supposed to work with God. He WANTS to be a part of the tasks He assigns us. In fact, we CANNOT do what He assigns us to do without Him. “Apart from Me you can do NOTHING,” He says.
Praying for lost people is God’s way of making sure we are keeping Him central to the task of evangelism. He doesn’t NEED us to do anything for Him, we just get to be a part of what He is doing.
So in a way, I’m asking you to be better than your pastor. Keep praying and trusting God to make things happen. If He includes you along the way, well, that’s great! But whatever we do in the name of the Lord, let us make sure we are praying His will and assistance all along the way.
This past Sunday we unpacked the biblical description of Hell. My hope was, with a better understanding of what God has saved us from and with the knowledge that this is the eternal destination of those who don’t know Jesus as Savior, each of us would be more motivated to reach our “one”.
We learned that Hell is an eternal dwelling place full of pain, fear, sadness, isolation, and separation. We read in Luke 16 that the rich man experienced all of these things the moment he opened his eyes in Hell. Hell is terrible, just awful, and we shouldn’t want anyone to go there. However, the Bible says that many will, “for broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many will enter through it” (Mathew 7:13). That could be why there is a “stairway to heaven” and a “highway to hell”.
From the sermon we also learned that there are good things in Hell. There are good people in Hell (from a human standard), good vision, good prayers (the rich man prayed God would have mercy on him), good memory (consciousness, awareness), good theology (the rich man knew in order to NOT go to hell you needed to repent), good priorities (the rich man turned into an evangelist having 5 people on his prayers list) and good intentions (Hell is full of people that never intended to go there).
Sharing Christ requires us to get out of our comfort zones and our teenagers are doing that. Last week, at Myrtle Beach, each day our students went out to share the Gospel. What did they find? Rejection, disappointment, sadness and many lost souls with no desire to know and experience Christ. Students were discouraged but at the same time uplifted when our group shared stories together during our evening debriefs. They were encouraged by the few that did listen and even came to Christ. However, 75% or more of the people they encountered did not even want to hold a spiritual conversation.
Frankly, I was disappointed more people didn’t show up Sunday night to hear and be encouraged by the leaders we are praying for to be sent out into the harvest twice a day. My expectation was a packed-out house to celebrate what God is doing through our young people.
My fear is as a church we have become stagnant. Something happens after the age of 30 and we think only teenagers and young adults are supposed to go out and evangelize. Evangelizing and holding Gospel conversations are for EVERYONE who believe. What we experienced this week confirmed that this world is full of lost people. Therefore, if you’re not getting rejected while witnessing at least three times a week, you may not be having enough Gospel conversations. When I say you, this includes me and anyone else on our church staff. We can ALL do better.
As I preached Sunday morning, we have to speak out, speak up and be bold. Praying is where it starts. The “Who’s Your ONE?” prayer book is great. However, at some point, we need to open up our mouths and have a Gospel conversation.
As we read in Luke 16, no one can come back from Hell to warn their friends and family. So, the question is, who will warn the people? It’s up to you and me. Let’s get to work (Matt. 28:16-20).
English poet John Donne, in the 17th century, famously wrote that “no man is an island”. He was right. No one is meant to do life alone. That’s why God provides a mother and father for us all and why it is God’s desire for all of us to experience community that is characterized by radical love and inclusivity. I see this occurring often in our church. I love going to Marshall Football games and seeing our church small groups there together as they tailgate and enjoy cheering on the Herd. This is who God meant for us to do life with. However, we could improve at inviting others outside of our church to join in.
I love how close and loyal family members in our area are to one another. I love how strong the bonds of friendships are between those who went to grade school, high school, and college together. I love how those who grew up in our church stick together through thick and thin times. But what about those who we didn’t grow up with? What about the people we interact with every day at work, at restaurants, and at gas stations? Are we known for being a church that invites anyone and everyone we meet to “come and see” (John 1:46) about Jesus and be loved by Him as we have been? We need to get better at this.
This week I invited 2 strangers who were serving me at different businesses to come check out our church. It was a little awkward, but it was more than worth it. It allowed our new friendship to grow and blessed the depth of our conversation. Anyone we meet who we are unsure if they have a faithful church to go to and/or we don’t know if Jesus is their Lord & Savior is someone we need to invite into our church, our small group, and into our friend group. No man is an island, let us remember that.
As a follower of Jesus, one of my favorite things to do is share my faith with people who don’t know Him. If you’re like me, you’ve found that one of the hardest things to do in conversation is to actually transition into talking about spiritual things; it’s easy to talk about work, family, and what you did last weekend, but when it comes to talking about Jesus, that’s a whole different ball game. Thankfully, I had a Barnabas in my life who shared with me an easy and effective way to do this.
I was supposed to meet up with a guy who said he was thinking about following Jesus (the appointment fell through), and I was talking with my roommate about what I could say. He told me, “You should ask him, ‘on a scale of 0 to 100, how confident are you that if you died today, you’d be in Heaven?’” At the time, I thought, “Oh… that’s cool I guess,” but as I continued walking with Jesus and sharing with more people, I saw just how powerful that question is.
As my college years went on, that became my favorite question to ask people because it moved them to share so much with me about what they thought about God. The most common answer I’d hear was, “About 70,” and they’d go on to explain to me, “Well, I mess up some, but I try my best to do right,” or, “I’ve went to church ever since I was little.” Now, even though the question has a range of answers from 0 to 100, God’s Word shows us that, in reality, there are only two possible answers.
We studied 1 John last Sunday night, and in chapter 5, we encountered this verse: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” So, what are the only two possible answers? 0 or 100. There’s no in-between. You’ve either got Jesus, or you don’t.
The reason I share this is because recently, we’ve been talking a lot about the Great Commission and our 1, that person in your life who you know doesn’t know Jesus. I share this question because it opens up so many doors for us to share our faith with them. So I challenge you: ask your 1 this question, and if the door opens, share with them how they can have the Son, and have life.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”, this is Jesus’ command to the church. Sounds a little daunting doesn’t it? How exactly are we to help people become disciples of Christ? Thankfully Jesus provided the answer, “(by) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you”. In order to make disciples, we must teach others everything that Jesus has taught us. This won’t happen by chance but only with an intentional plan.
We all have influence. There is someone who looks up to you. It may be someone new at work, a younger student, and your children definitely look up to you if you are a parent. So invite them out for a meal or coffee and share with them all the potential you see in them. Tell them how you could see them moving up the chain at work, graduating top of their class, or how they could be a fantastic leader. Then share that you want to help them because of what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Tim 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
If they are willing to meet with you then plan to meet with them so that you can teach them what Jesus has taught you with intentionality. Teach them how Jesus will never let go or lose those who have placed their faith in Him (John 10:27-30). Teach them how we are saved by grace alone and therefore there is nothing that we could ever do to make God love us more or less (Eph 2:8-9). Teach them that we were made to do good works for Jesus at work, in our homes, and in our local church (Eph 2:10). You may feel inadequate to do this, I know I am. But remember Jesus’ Promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matt 28:20.
Feel free to check out my Mentoring 101 Sunday School class on the 3rd floor to learn more this Sunday.
Imagine if every member of your church could answer that question with the name of a person—a person for whom they’re praying and with whom they’re sharing the gospel. How would it change your church? How would it change the world?
God’s people don’t merely need another method for evangelism. What they need is a white-hot passion to see people who are far from God experience the new life He offers through Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how many buildings we construct, churches we plant or sermons we preach if we’re not intent on doing everything so that lost men, women and children will experience the transforming work of God. Without that one thing, we fail.
That’s why we’re launching Who’s Your One. This effort is designed to mobilize every Southern Baptist to identify one person in his or her relational network to pray for and share the gospel with in 2019. At The Summit Church, we tried something similar. We kept asking our members, “Who’s your one?” It’s not an elaborate or complicated idea, but this simple idea led to our most evangelistically effective year to date. Because of this intentional push toward evangelism, we ended up baptizing more than 650 people that year. What an incredible joy it was to have people come up to me at church and say, “Pastor, this is my one.” Or to see them stand in the baptistery with someone and tell me later, “That was her! She was my one!”
As you launch Who’s Your One and pray for God to use your church members to reach those who are lost, pray also about what God wants to do through you. If we’re going to move the evangelism needle in our churches, we’ve got to be modeling what we’re preaching. By God’s grace, we can all partner to reach our one.
Lead Pastor, Summit Church
This Sunday we will be handing out prayer journals for the entire church. If you cannot be here this Sunday, come by the church office to get your copy.
We are blessed to live in a place where we get to fully experience & enjoy all the seasons of year. What’s your favorite season of the year? Mine is Fall. I love the cool crisp air, seeing the leaves change color, & of course College Football. But like all seasons it eventually comes to an end as does our teens time in the Garage Ministry.
When our teens graduate from the Garage, their next few decisions are extremely crucial. It’s at this time that they will decide whether or not their faith in Jesus will truly be their own and who their close friends will be. Will they continue meeting together with others who are like-minded in their faith to follow & become more like Jesus? Or will Jesus be someone they remember from their days in the Garage who they don’t think about anymore?
Parents your reaction to your children growing up is critical. Your child may be an adult but they still need you, and they will still listen to you...just not as often as you might like. Encourage them to keep coming out to our college & career Small Group on Sunday nights at 6:30. Your child may not know many people at first, but I guarantee you, there are many good friendships waiting for them because we teach the Bible in a way that engages their season of life to help them become mature, faithful, and wise followers of Jesus which always leads to sweet community.
I want the best for our young adults which is why I have to ask you to do one more thing: have conversations about Jesus at home. Share with them what you have learned from Jesus & ask them what Jesus has taught them? A few days at church a week can have a good impact. But talking about Jesus, reading the Bible, and praying together at home everyday will make for an extraordinary impact (I’m talking Grand Canyon Sized) on a young person’s faith.
Let us continue serving Him together,
Graduation Sunday is just around the corner and this year, I’ll be watching my 21st graduating class walk across the stage. The kids that are heading off to college were not even conceived when Dee and I first visited FBC Kenova back in 1998. My very own Lucas, born in 2000, will walk the stage this Friday night. Wow!
Whenever you have a child go through a rite of passage, it forces you to look back over the rites of passage in the past. All along the way, Lucas was cared for by some of the most incredible Sunday School teachers and AWANA leaders that a family could ever request. I can honestly say that we didn’t have one bad experience with a teacher during his entire childhood. Servant after servant, year after year, the people of this church poured into his life to help him, and many others, become who they are today.
The experience didn’t stop there. From Josh Sowards to Jamie Berry to Casey Chapman and Jeremy Napier, we had four youth ministers who navigated the challenges of tearing down old buildings, staying flexible during building programs, and then renovating “new” youth facilities to give us the Garage we have today. Thousands of man/woman hours went into the construction. Tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars went into the programs as well.
Dozens of Pit Crew members. Loving parents. 100 caring “surrogate” grandparents and great-grandparents, over 1000 meals prepared by the ladies in our kitchens – this is the cost of bringing up a child in a church family. The people of FBC Kenova have been doing this for over a century. The beat goes on.
For all of you who keep singing and giving on Sunday morning, for each servant/volunteer in the baby nurseries, for each person who takes out trash or cleans up a mess, for the secretaries who send out bulletins … you all are a part of the most powerful organization on the face of the planet … the church. By the grace of God, you are what keeps this world going around.
The next time you serve in the nursery, don’t ever lose the fact that you are making a huge impact as another very significant brick in the wall. We want you in that wall. We need you in that wall. Every child that walks across that stage is a jewel in your crown. Keep building … the gates of hell won’t prevail against it!
Gen. 27. As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!”…Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
These tragic verses were Esau’s response to a Dad who would not pray blessings over him. Deep down, every child wants to be blessed by his father. They want those affirming words. When Dad’s don’t have affirming words, it can be devastating. When Dad’s give blessings, however, it can be lifechanging.
I can remember it like yesterday. Baseball was a big deal in my family. As the legend in the Upper Kanawha Valley goes, my dad was one step away from playing professional baseball. Baby Stevie came around, however, and it was either run off to play ball (and leave my mom) or go in the coal mines and support me. Thankfully, he chose the latter and resigned himself to semi-pro travel ball on weekends.
It’s hard growing up the son of a someone who was really good. It doesn’t matter what they were really good AT, it’s just that they were really good. All you hear about growing up was how good your dad was, and deep down you know you’ll never be good enough to match him.
But on one day, I felt like I
measured up to the task. I was 12 years old in my final year of Little
League and one of my dad’s old baseball buddies decided to come and watch me
play. My first at bat was a pretty miserable attempt. I got called out
watching the curveball break across the plate. As I walked back to the dugout I
heard dad’s friend laugh and say, “Just like his old man, he’s afraid to
swing.” I was embarrassed.
The next at bat was just as
bad. Determined not to watch a good pitch go by, I swung at the first
three pitches, none of which would have been strikes. Three straight
whiffs and back to the bench. I didn’t hear the guy’s second comments,
but later Dad told me he again said, “Just like his old man!”
The final at bat was in the last inning. It was a 1-0 game and we were behind. I was at bat with two outs and one guy on base. The first pitch came in – a strike. The second came in – another strike. I stepped out of the batter’s box and looked at dad. He said, “It’s gonna be a curveball.” I stepped back in, waited for the curve, and hit the longest home run of my Little League career. We won the game. As I came across home plate and made my way to the dug out, dad came over with his friend. Dad’s friend said, “You’re just like your old man.” To which Dad replied, “That’s right! He hits ‘em out every time!”
Dads, may I encourage you to give those affirming words every night. Place your hands on your children and thank God for them. Pray that God will bless them and keep them and be gracious to them. It doesn’t have to be a long excurses on theology. Just thank God for them, say something positive about them, ask God to forgive them when they make mistakes, but help them to get up the next day and walk with Him.
Their lives will never be the same.
I posted a timeline of selected quotes from Jesus’ saying on the cross. One could really write a book on these things. Take time to reflect upon what Christ accomplished for you on that good Good Friday.
8:30am. Good Friday morning. While most of Jerusalem was sleeping in (following the Jewish equivalent to our New Year’s Eve), Jesus has been tried, beaten and wrongfully convicted. He carries our cross up the road known as the Via Dolorosa, that is, The Way of Suffering.
9am. The soldiers strip Jesus and crucify Him like a common thief. They gamble for His clothing.
9:30am. As He is being ridiculed and mocked by the very ones He created, Jesus exclaims, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” This statement was in reference to the soldiers who were gambling for His clothes. I’m pretty sure the religious leaders knew EXACTLY what they were doing (Matt. 21:38-40).
11:30am. As the greatest sign that it’s never too late to find forgiveness, the thief recognizes that Jesus is the true Messiah. As long as you have breath, you can always ask Jesus into your life. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Noon. The sky grows dark. Man has done his worst. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a darker day in our history.
2:30pm. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I almost didn't post this because there's no quick answer, but I'll give my best short overview. Jesus knew all things that were going to happen to Him (John 18:4), and that includes God pouring out His wrath on Him. But just as we all do in times of agony, occasionally we ask "WHY?" even when we already know the answer. Sometimes you say "WHY?" when you watch a loved one die due to cancer. You know "why" they died? You know the biological reason. You know the spiritual reason. You know that due to Adam's original sin our bodies are broken and destined for destruction. But still, in your emotional pain and conflicted intellect you say, "WHY? Dear God! WHY?" Jesus knew why God was pouring out all of His wrath on Him. Only a GOD can do in six hours what 20 billion of us couldn't have done in an eternity in hell. After about five hours of suffering our eternal hell, is it any wonder He cried out in emotional pain, "WHY?"
3pm. It is finished. All prophecies have been fulfilled. The requirements of the law have been brought to an end. Christ’s work on earth is done. The debt has been paid. Our ransom is completed. It is finished.
Next to Christmas, Easter was my favorite holiday as a child. Coloring
eggs for the egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, Easter baskets … my family did a
great job of making it fun.
But they did far more than that. My mother especially reminded me that
Jesus was the reason for the season, and my Dad usually got me out of bed in
time for sunrise service. Following morning worship Easter Sunday dinner
was a big deal with family. The entire day was a big celebration of
Sadly, as an adult, I don’t know that we do as good as a job with Sundays as what we did when I was growing up. The egg hunts that Tony leads are probably better, even more Christ-focused than what I remember. I love the Holy Week services. There are so many things that we do well.
But as a pastor, as far as morning worship goes, I’m just telling you, it’s the hardest morning of the year to keep people’s attention. The singing in the pews just hasn’t been as good as normal Sundays. People’s faces are less engaged, almost disinterested. It’s more like people are coming to an event as opposed to a worship service.
And when I say “worship service”, I mean just that, Sunday morning is supposed to be a time of worship in song, giving, and the Word. Like I said, people typically don’t sing as well. The offering is actually low for the amount of people that attend, and as far as the preaching goes, I can just tell, half the people’s minds are somewhere else.
So, I exhort you church, do whatever you have to do on Saturday night so nobody is stressed on Sunday morning. Know going into it that the devil will probably do more to distract us on Easter Sunday than any Sunday of the year. Prepare your hearts during the week so that Sunday morning is an explosion of worship. May the words of this opening song be the cry of our hearts! --Steve
We've waited for this day, We're gathered in your name, Calling out to you
Your glory like a fire, Awakening desire, Will burn our hearts with truth
You're the reason we're here, You're the reason we're singing
Open up the heavens, We want to see you, Open up the floodgates, A mighty river
Flowing from your heart, Filling every part of our praise
Your presence in this place, Your glory on our face, We're looking to the sky
Descending like a cloud, You're standing with us now, Lord, unveil our eyes
You're the reason we're here, You're the reason we're singing
Show us, show us your
glory, Show us, show us your power, Show us, show us your glory, Lord
Penn Jilette (an atheist) of Penn &
Teller once shared “How much do you have to HATE somebody to believe
everlasting life is possible and not tell them that”? Do we LOVE his creation?
His “church” has too many opportunities these next 10 days for you to keep quiet!
Luke 10:27 “You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Celebration and Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 13 from 10:00am-12:00 noon. Our goal is to collect 5,000 stuffed eggs! We have thousands of eggs, specifically needing candy to stuff them. Please drop off in the front office. Also, if God is leading you to help with this event, please contact Tony.
- Holy Week
Holy Week services are being held April 15-19 at noon at Kenova United Methodist Church (503 15th St. Kenova). Services begin at noon, lunch served at 12:30. A freewill offering will be taken during the lunch to support the Good Samaritan Center.
Monday: First Independent Missionary Baptist & First Congregational (Zach Johnson & Marty Gute)
Tuesday: 20th St. Baptist & Kenova Church of God (Matthew Christian & Paul Cantrell)
Wednesday: First Baptist Kenova (Steve Willis)
Thursday: First Baptist Ceredo (Rodney Hale)
Friday: Kenova United Methodist & Ceredo United Methodist (Jim Richards & Tom Baisden
- Seder Dinner
Tickets are now on sale for the Seder Dinner and must be purchased in advance. Tickets will be available Sunday, April 14 after both services in the Welcome Center. This event will be on Thursday, April 18 at 6:00pm in the Family Life Center. Cost is $6 for individual or $12 for a family.
Services at FBCK
This year we will have three worship services on Easter Sunday: 7:30am; 9:00am; 11:30am.
Unless your group received a special dispensation from a pastor, your small group money is due Wednesday night. Over two months ago, Josh gave each small group $500. Their job was to invest that $500 (of the Lord’s money) and try to turn a profit. If you haven’t already guessed it, this exercise was preparing us for this Sunday’s Scripture from Matthew 25.
Again, it [the Kingdom of God] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of
gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where
you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was
afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs
to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I
harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27
Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that
when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “‘So take
the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For
whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does
not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that
worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.’
Which groups are the good and faithful servants? Which ones will be cast outside where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth? We’ll find out this Sunday.
Sunday, September 27, 2015 was a date being shopped around as a prelude to the end of days. On the heels of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, the day of atonement, in the heart of Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles, in a calendar year that lined up exactly with 33AD, on the night of the fourth consecutive blood moon coinciding with the major Jewish holidays of the last two years, on the eve of a U.S. backed deal with the chief of Israel’s current and millennial old enemies …. On that night …. We chose to praise the Lord. We sang hallelujah. We celebrated the mercy of Christ on the cross and the power of Christ displayed in the resurrection.
The Holy Spirit was moving among our congregation. God was honored and our hearts were moved to love our neighbors as we loved ourselves. Challenged with meeting the immediate physical needs of over a million refugees, many of which are Christian, our church family at Kenova and MCF demonstrated unity by giving and/or pledging over $10,000 to be sent to our mission partners in Eastern Europe.
Time usually flies but to me, our first unity night feels like a long time ago. FBC Ashland hadn’t partnered with us as of yet. Between us and MCF (now HCC), we’ve had over 200 baptisms since that time. A lot of water has gone under our Ohio River railroad bridge since the first Unity Night four years ago.
As we prepare our hearts for this Sunday night, I want to remind us that this is more than a concert. This is about three congregations coming together as one church to glorify Jesus. Please come expecting the name of Jesus to be lifted up in a special way. As the book of Acts teaches us, God does something extraordinary when “all the people are together and have everything in common.” We find unity in one thing above all else, the GLORY of Jesus Christ. May His glory be shown among us this Sunday night!
Matthew 9 – Jesus parties at Matthew’s house.
Matthew 22 – Parable of the Wedding Celebration
Luke 7 – Jesus parties at Simon’s house
Luke 14a – Jesus parties at a Pharisees home
Luke 14b – Parable of the Great Banquet
Luke 15 – The Parable of the Lost (prodigal) son who comes home
Luke 19 – Jesus parties with Zacchaeus
Luke 22 – Jesus feasts with His disciples for Passover
John 2 – Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding party
John 8 – Jesus celebrates at the Feast of Booths
John 10 – Jesus celebrates at the Feast of Dedication
Do you notice a theme throughout the Gospels? Jesus certainly didn’t run from a party. He liked to have a good time. He liked to tell stories about parties. He celebrated with people the joy of forgiveness, salvation, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
I want our church to act like Jesus is ready to party with us every week. I want every Sunday to be a celebration. We have the Gospel, the GOOD NEWS, so why don’t we act like it? I’m not asking anyone to fake it. I just want everyone to have the perspective that Jesus has won the battles for us, that He has conquered sin and death, that we have been forgiven, that we have love for today and hope for tomorrow!
If you’ve missed out on Wednesday night fellowship dinners, may I ask you to come back with us? We heard from several individuals that there were a little too many extracurriculars going on with flying frisbees and bouncing balls, but we’ve worked to make it a safer (but still fun) environment for kids. We want you to be a part of the fellowship time, conversing around the dinner table, sharing life with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
May I also encourage you to spend time celebrating life together with your small groups. If you’re not already in a small group, we’ll connect you with one. Come and share and support and love on people who are going through life with you. That’s what church family is all about.
Let’s keep this party going! After all, we have the greatest reason for celebration that the world has ever known!
There are two big myths when it comes to pastoral counseling. Myth #1: Pastors have some special power that others don’t have. Myth #2: Only professionals with psychology degrees should give advice.
FACT: Every believer is expected to be a counselor. The ministry of counseling is not only for pastors. In fact, every believer is expected to be involved to some degree. The Apostle Paul was confident that well-taught believers are able to counsel one another (Rom. 15:14). A growing Christian with a love for and a working knowledge of the Scriptures is a far more competent counselor than a trained psychologist with three degrees hanging on his wall and several initials behind his name. Effective counseling is the product of being richly indwelt with the Word of God (Col. 3:16) not the theories of Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung. Far from giving pat answers like, “take two Bible verses and call me in the morning,” biblical counseling requires wisdom and compassion from God because real people have real needs (1 Thess. 5:14).
FACT: The local church is the intended and ideal place for counseling. God also provides the ideal environment where lives can be changed. It is not an accident that the commands to counsel one another are found in letters to local churches. The apostles always assumed that every believer would be a faithful member of a local body of Christ. The NT never even entertains the idea of a Christian not being accountable to a group of fellow believers. The book of Hebrews, written to a local body of Jewish believers, stresses the immense value of this relationship, let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (Heb. 10:24-25).
FACT: It’s the pastors’/elders’ job to prepare the church body for frontline biblical counseling. (Here at Kenova, we are going to start doing a better job.) Please prayerfully consider being trained for this vital ministry.
(This article is taken from Paul Tautges’ book, Delight in the Word, a collection of essays providing food for biblical counselors and homework for their counselees.)
I just returned from a week of teaching Biblical Marriage and Family at
the Uganda Baptist Seminary (UBS). The
seminary housing is currently filled to capacity and the faculty has all the
students it can handle. I can tell you
assuredly that no seminary in the United States is turning down masses of
students due to a lack of faculty! While
there are many challenges at UBS, I am pleased to announce that the seminary,
as well as the Church in Africa, is going strong!
Uganda’s Christian population has nearly doubled (yes, you read that right), DOUBLED in the last twenty years. To put that in perspective, the Christian population in the United States hasn’t seen growth like that since, well, since the 19th century. If current growth patterns continue, Africa will contain more Christians than the rest of the world COMBINED. Yes, the balance of Jesus’ bride has shifted from here to there. And as European and American “progressives” have tried to use finances to export liberal, non-biblical theology on our African counterparts, the true church of Africa has simply refused.
Even while I was there, African pastors confronted me about the state of the Church and family in the United States. Noting their own struggles with polygamy in the past, they prided themselves that they are growing in their understanding of the Bible while it appears many churches in the United States are doing the opposite. Though our class had no Methodist students, when word reached campus that the African delegation of the world-wide United Methodist church had prevented the entire denomination from affirming sodomy and homosexual pastors, these church leaders began to ask me if instead of the USA sending missionaries to Africa, perhaps Africa needed to be sending missionaries to the USA.
Methodist African pastor, Jerry Kulah, stated publicly after their delegation’s demand that the UMC retain a biblical view on marriage and family in spite of opposition from the majority of UMC American Bishops,
“We Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.” We are grounded in God’s word and the gracious and clear teachings of our church. On that we will not yield! We will not take a road that leads us from the truth! We will take the road that leads to the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for transformation of the world! Unfortunately, some United Methodists in the U.S. have the very faulty assumption that all Africans are concerned about is U.S. financial support. Well, I am sure, being sinners like all of you, some Africans are fixated on money. But with all due respect, a fixation on money seems more of an American problem than an African one. We get by on far less than most Americans do; we know how to do it. I’m not so sure you do. So if anyone is so naïve or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us.”
There was a time when pastors in America spoke with such unity and clarity. That was the last time we saw Christianity in America double in as little as 20 years. The time period was later deemed The Great Awakening. My prayer is that God will move in the United States to have laypersons and clergy speak like that again.
I was at a golf range my sophomore year of college and as I sliced ball after ball over the side of the netting into a wooded area, the owner of the range said to me, “Do you think you are doing something wrong?” I admitted that I might need some help. He offered some help by telling me my aim was off. Well, after all of these years, I still have a slice, but I never forgot the advice. Am I hitting the ball just to hit it, or was there a target that I was aiming at? I think the same thing applies to the church. What is the goal? To hopefully like what songs are being sung? To hopefully hear a good sermon? Or the hope of great programming so I can walk out in the end feeling happy that everything was the way I like it? Do we ever think that it might not be about what we like or think about church? 2 Corinthians 5:9, says, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him”. So, there is nothing wrong with wanting to like the music or the message, it’s just not the goal. So instead of going home and rating the church service 1-10, let’s ask the question a different way. Was God pleased? Was God pleased with how I worshipped? Was God pleased with how I listened to his word being taught? Was God pleased with how I spoke to my spouse and children this morning? Was God pleased with my thoughts towards my co-workers? Was