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 God pleased with how I spent my time this week? The list is endless. If our lives are the arrow, what is the target? Take aim at the Christ who died for you. He is the only one worthy to aim the arrow of your life at.
Aiming at the right target with the arrow of my life can make all of the difference! So what does this look like in a believer’s life? Here are some practical ways to get you started.
- Making Jesus CENTRAL in our daily life. (Eph. 3:18-19; Phil. 1:21)
- By knowing Him more fully. (Jer. 9:23-24)
- By praising and thanking him (privately and publicly).
- By being obedient in what he has already commanded. (I Cor. 6:19-20)
- By dealing with sin and pursuing purity. (Josh. 7:19, Eph. 1:4)
- By reflecting his attributes (being like Christ). (2 Cor. 3:18, Gal. 5:22-23).
- By being in community. (Eph. 3:21, 4:11-16)
- By proclaiming Christ to a lost world. (Matt. 28:18-20).
- By us desiring, delighting in being satisfied in him alone. (Ps. 73, 2 Cor. 5:9).
We can either eclipse or reflect God’s glory in any and every situation. What are you wanting, thinking, or acting out that needs to be in greater alignment with pleasing Christ. Let’s aim our lives at the target of God’s glory together. Its what we were created for.
Hello Church Family,
I introduced myself this past Sunday to you from the platform and wanted to follow up with you to let you know how excited Charlotte and I are to be a part of what God is doing at FBCK.
We are from the Cincinnati, OH area and are actively seeking what the Lord has for us next in ministry. Knowing Steve for a few years now and truly appreciating all that God is doing at the church, we see the growth at FBC as a great problem to have. With that brings many challenges for your staff. My goal is to come along Steve and help him. That just means to be an extension of what he sees needs to be done in the church to be more effective for the kingdom.
There are many needs represented in a growing church the size of FBCK. There is much counseling (help from God’s perspective), help in teaching, and in equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry to be done. My background in ministry for the past 24 years has been discipleship, leadership development, and counseling. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and if you allow me, I would love to come alongside you and by God’s grace take the next steps towards becoming more mature followers of Christ and engaging others to live and serve like Jesus.
My wife is a nurse at Children’s hospital in Cincinnati, OH and will be with me most Sundays. I have three children. My oldest, McKenzie, is a graduate of Cedarville University and is a Nurse in Tallahassee, FL. My middle son is a junior at Johnson University in Knoxville, TN. My youngest is a junior in high school and you will see him around as well.
Thank you for receiving us so well. We are excited about what God is up to here at FBCK and to be a part for however long God sees fit. God bless.
There’s no question that children are the focus of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 17, Matthew 18, and Matthew 19. In between Jesus’ teaching on children and faith, He laces His admonitions with adult reminders of our responsibility to them. Perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance … these are all characteristics that His followers must pursue for the sake of the Kingdom of God but also for the spiritual, mental, and physical health of children.
And it is those same five characteristics (perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance) that are key to the success of any marriage or long-term relationship. It takes perseverance to make a relationship work. It takes faith to believe that things will get better when you hit hard times. It takes a heart of forgiveness because no matter who you are in relationship with, at some point they are going to hurt you. It takes humility to recognize when you are wrong and it takes a willingness to turn and repent from the things we do that cause others pain.
As Jesus closes this section of teaching, it should come as no surprise that the question of divorce comes before Jesus. Few things affect a child’s development more than martial dissolution. Few things affect a child’s faith more than feeling like God doesn’t hear their incessant prayer requests for their mommies and daddies to have a home of peace instead of conflict.
And it is at this point that again, we must pray for God’s grace to empower us to embrace perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance. Too often we embody the opposite of these ideals. We tend to want to quit, doubt, hold grudges, be prideful, and instead of repenting and changing, we dig in our heels, justifying our selfish actions.
Perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, repentance. Will you pray for God to strengthen you in these characteristics? Thank God that we serve a Savior who epitomizes these attributes. He persevered through Calvary. He remains faithful even when we are faithless. He forgives what seems to be unforgivable. He is the perfect picture of a humble servant, the One who humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross.
The only attribute of that list of five things that Christ doesn’t exhibit is repentance. Why? Because He is the only One of us who never needed to repent, who never headed in the wrong direction, who never sinned and it is for this reason that His death on the cross covers our multiple failings. Praise be the One who paid our debt and raised His life up from the dead.
And that same Savior can resurrect any relationship if the people involved will embrace perseverance, faith, forgiveness, humility, and repentance. May those things be true of us today.
What if a couple finds out at 24 weeks of pregnancy that their baby is going to be a girl, but the mother decides she only wanted a son, shouldn't her husband have some legal rights when it comes to protecting his viable daughter in the womb? Should it be legal for doctors to abort children because of their gender, especially if it's against the father's desires? Why do we tell men they have zero authority over their child in the womb yet, if that child is born, he should take 100% responsibility for that child? Are we sending mixed messages to our young men?
Currently it’s legal to abort a child if the mother finds out the baby likely had blue eyes instead of brown. Even if someone is pro-choice, do they think abortion should be legal for eye color discrimination? How about skin color?
If pre-natal DNA tests could tell us a baby’s IQ potential at 20 weeks, and a child’s predicted range was just slightly above average, should a mother who was hoping for a genius child be able to elect for an abortion? Why or why not?
According to U.S. law, African-American slaves were the legal property of their white owners. What arguments would you have made in 1857 to a slave owner who told you the government had no business imposing their morality on them and their property?
Should our government legislate morality? What makes something moral or immoral? If 80% of Americans believed slavery to be moral, would that make it OK? Why or why not?
When is it OK to kill foster children?
a. They’re not wanted
b. No one wants to care for them
c. They become a financial liability
d. They are not expected to live a long and happy life
e. None of the above. They are human beings and deserve a chance at life.
When should it be legal to kill a child?
a. When they are an inconvenience
b. When their father commits a crime such as rape
c. When their father and mother don’t have much money
d. When their predicted medical bills hit a certain figure
e. None of the above. They are human beings and deserve a chance at life
Would you ever say, “I am against the lynching of minorities, but I don’t think the government should punish people who do”? Why or why not?
Would you ever say, “I’m personally against child abuse, but the government should not get involved in private family matters”? Why or why not?
The question that must always be answered is, “Is the life in the womb human or not?”
Our deacons just returned from a great weekend at Parchment Valley. We had two ordinations, Josh Campbell for the Kenova campus and Blake Arvon for the HCC campus. We also had a time of training and equipping, getting them ready for 2019. Each deacon and deaconess should be contacting their members at least once every two months. During that time, you can share with them your prayer requests, update them on things going on with your family, or alerting them to any needs you might have.
Here is your deacon/deaconess list for 2019. If you don't know your deacon, please go up to them and introduce yourself.
A Dusty Hughes
B Jerrod Workman
C Len Picha
D,E Josh Campbell
F Larry Lucas
G John Fraizer
H Bret Hanshaw
I,J,K TJ Adkins
L Kyle Butcher
M Wes Moore
N Greg Hensley
N Greg Hensley
P,Q,R Rick Ball
S Phil Niebergal
T,U,V Sam Gue
W-Z Randy Dean
“How much urine can I put in your water before you refuse to drink it?”
I remember the first time my youth director posed this question to me. I thought it was kind of silly. “None!” I answered.
She then pointed to my 80s cassette tapes in my car. “Then why do you ingest that music into your soul?”
Jesus put it this way. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6.
But He also said…“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33
While the metaphors change, the main point does not. It just takes a little bit of something to change a big something.
A positive attitude can revolutionize a negative workplace.
One good player can change an entire team.
One malcontent in a church can ruin the spirit for everyone.
A hidden sin can bring disaster on a family, no matter how small.
In other words, don’t believe that our actions, whether good or bad, are insignificant. Positive people can make a positive difference. Negative people can make things bad, really bad. And it doesn’t take much.
Jesus is both warning and encouraging His disciples at the same time. When they leave His tutelage, they can become world changers. They can start small and go big. But the one thing that will slow them down is a little sin, a little compromise, or just one negative Nancy in their lives.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. The Bible is filled with stories of one man or one woman who made a big difference. Just a little can go a long way.
After months of praying I decided to take the Garage Students through a series on relationships, dating and sex. This was a highly requested topic from both parents and our students.
Something Sharon and I discuss often is that if we desire to see our kids have a different outcome in life and relationships we can’t allow them to do the same things as the world, we must teach them to approach relationships, dating and sex God’s way.
God has given us good desires and attractions for others, and there is nothing wrong with that, but, we have to be careful because Satan wants to create something evil from them. One of the ways Satan does this is taking our natural and good desire to be in a relationship and tempting us to turn that desire, or the person we are attracted to, into an idol. I often see our teenagers’ relationship with God go by the wayside as they enter dating relationships. Therefore, in week one, we discussed our relationship with God and how trying to fulfill ourselves through other people is idolatry.
It’s important to remember our relationship with God is the only relationship that will last. God is the only one who will never break up with them, never cheat on them, never let them down or disappoint them. If their fulfillment, completeness, happiness, and joy is based on God they will have it forever because God will never leave them and God does not change.
We followed up this discussion with a talk on what to look for in a person of the opposite sex. We established that, as Christians, they should approach dating as a friendship between two people with the intentions of exploring romantic connections and compatibility for marriage.
If dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner and one cannot legally get married until 18, then dating in middle school or early high school should be avoided. Once one comes to the age where marriage is possible in the near future, choosing someone who is a Christian and is actively serving in the church is non-negotiable.
Once a spiritually mature dating relationship, that has marriage potential, is established we talked about setting up boundaries to protect their mental, physical and spiritual integrity. We started by addressing the "why,” 1) our love for God and 2) our love for others. If they are mature enough to date, they should be mature enough to set up boundaries, and share them with someone that can hold them accountable, such as their parents.
Our series concluded this Sunday night on the topic of sex. From the very beginning, God made sex a good thing! However, sex was designed to be used in the confines of marriage. Students learned that their bodies are not their own, but the Lord’s (1 Cor. 6:12-7:1) and they need to preserve sexual intimacy until marriage.
Each sermon was recorded live and posted on the Garage page along with discussion questions from the evening. Please consider viewing and discussing the content with the teenagers in your life.
Sunday School Information and Classes for Spring Semester (January 13-May 27)
Beginning Sunday, January 13, Sunday School will begin at 10:20 and dismiss at 11:15. Everyone is encouraged to attend!
Academy Old Testament: Major Prophets (Jason Brumfield)
Academy Old Testament: Biblical Angeology and Anthropology (Dave Akers)
Academy New Testament: Gospels (Jerrod Workman)
Academy New Testament: General Epistles (Hebrews, James, I-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude) (Bill Davenport)
Academy New Testament: Pauline Epistles (1 Cor.- Philemon) (Larry Lucas and TJ Adkins)
Academy Missions: World Religions (Sharon Napier/Jerry Saulton)
Academy Missions: Intro to World Missions (Hugh & Sarah Murray)
Academy Systematic Theology: Basic Apologetics: Foundations for Defending your Faith (Isaac McKown)
Academy Practical Theology: Shepherding a Child’s Heart: Parenting God’s Way (Sam and Maggie Gue)
Academy Practical Theology: Celebrate Recovery (Caleb Jones)
Academy Practical Theology: Your Body is a Temple of God; Focus on Faith and Fitness (Ger & Cassie Sasser & Steve Willis)
Old Testament Book Study: Ezekiel (Jack Ferguson)
I saw an online commercial last Sunday. It was an advertisement for 2 “opportunities” this Sunday to celebrate Christmas. The advertisement featured lots of confetti, multiple dancing elves, two reindeer mascots, a snowman, one Santa Claus, and the lead guy firing free t-shirts out into the crowd. There were promises of prizes and giveaways at both “opportunities” this weekend.
It sounded like something BIG was going on with Dutch Holland or Big Sandy Superstore.
But it wasn’t. The opportunities were code for a church service. Only there was no mention of Jesus. No mention of God. Not even an angel.
It felt like one of our old Nick-at-Night promos minus the spiritual music in the background, minus the biblical skits, minus the Take Five invitation at the end. Yes, minus Jesus.
I hope people come to that “opportunity” and hear the good news. I really do. The last thing I want to do is rain on someone’s parade that is only doing what they believe will get people in the doors to hear the Christmas message. There’s no doubt in my mind that the makers of the commercial have good intentions and want to see people get saved.
As we say in the South, “Well, God bless ‘em.”
But at FBC Kenova, Huntington Community Church, and FBC Ashland, this Sunday will be like every other Sunday where the main emphasis will be to sing praises to God and to apply His Word to our lives. Yes, we’ll do Christmas hymns instead of the usual praise songs. The choir will sing an extra special song about Jesus. But my sermon will be normal length and we will be working our way verse-by-verse through a section in Matthew. Yes, it’s Christmas Sunday but it’s still a SUNDAY. It’s still the Lord’s Day. And you won’t find me in an elf suit.
Seriously, if I believed firing T-shirts into the crowd and giving away iPads would bring more people to Christ, I’d dress up like Frosty every week. But I really believe this Sunday should be like every Sunday in that we are giving our worship to God. Sundays are about pleasing Christ, about singing our songs to Him, about opening our ears to hear wonderful things from His Word. The point of Sundays is not the salvation of man, it’s the worship of Christ. And as we light the advent candles for this Sunday and again on Christmas Eve at 6pm, I pray we do what we do in order to bring glory to His name. He draws people to places that praise His name!
So if you really need a free T-shirt, keep watching online. I’m sure you’ll get directions. But if you believe what we do every week is perfect for Christmas week, I’ll see you Sunday (minus the elf suit, of course!).
As Jesus prepares to send out 12 young adult men on to their first mission trip, he warns them that they will be persecuted by friends, family, religious leaders and local governments. They’ll be ridiculed, beaten, disowned, mocked, and maybe even killed.
Yet as they are walking out the door in Matthew 10, Jesus reminds them of the most oft repeated command in Scripture. FEAR NOT!
For 365 times in the Bible ( I don’t think that’s a coincidence ) God reminds us that when we are walking in obedience to His will, we have nothing to fear. Fear is the devil’s number one tool for keeping us defeated, stopping us from sharing our faith, hindering us from loving one another the way God has designed. But Jesus gives His disciples three keys for defeating fear. For this article, I’m just going to focus on the first one.
Key #1: Have an eternal perspective. If we are on the Lord’s side then we are on the winning team. That’s the first thing Jesus is telling the disciples. Have an eternal perspective. This movement cannot be stopped! The message is going to go forth and we are going to win! Even if you face persecution today and tomorrow, in the long run, you are going to be rewarded for all eternity.
As many of you know, November was not a good year for WVU fans. We lost two football games that we should have won, we got a cruddy bowl game, and we’ve already lost more basketball games than we did through half of last year. So when I saw we were playing our archrival PITT in a game this past Saturday, I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I couldn’t handle another disappointment!
So you know what I did? I recorded the game on my DVR and checked the final score before I watched it. The Mountaineers beat the Panthers pretty handily so I turned on the game and watched from the beginning. Even in the times when Pitt (a.k.a. the Devil) made a run at our team, I didn’t get stressed out one time. Whenever we’d miss shots, I was fine. 17 turnovers in the first half? No problem.
Why wasn’t I stressed out at all of our mistakes? Because I knew in the end we would blow them out! And that’s what Jesus was telling His disciples. In the end, everything is going to be laid out and we will be on the winning side. So don’t stress!
Satan always tries to get us to focus on the here and now instead of resting in the assurance that God is going to come out on top and God is taking us with Him. No matter what we face on this earth, it’s just temporary. God’s grace will see us through until the end! (Which is only the beginning!!!)
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38
To me, this paragraph is one of the most powerful sections in the book of Matthew. The writer gives us an up close and personal look at Jesus’ heart. He didn’t see the hoards of people as a problem, He saw them as people. Jesus didn’t primarily see them as sinners, rather, He saw them as sufferers.
When we see people as individuals who suffer from a disease called sin, it makes it a lot easier to treat them with mercy and compassion. As we discussed this past Sunday, the word for “compassion” here means to have deep feelings in your gut. It means you care so much about someone that it hurts deep down in your belly when things aren’t going well for them.
On the other hand, when we act like Pharisees and see people as sinners, it makes it easy to cast judgment on them, to care very little for them, and in fact, seeing others primarily as sinners enables us to treat them quite harshly. I can come down on my wife and kids with all the wrath of heaven if I think they are just choosing to rebel against God. But when I recognize that maybe, just maybe, they are acting in a negative way because they are suffering from something going on in the inside, it’s amazing how differently I can feel toward them. It’s an incredibly freeing experience both for me and them!
When we view others like Jesus views us, like people who need loved and shepherded, who need protected and fed, who need forgiven and healing, it drives us to pray that God places people in their lives who will help guide them toward a closer relationship with Him. That’s what Jesus is commanding in Matthew 9:38, that we pray to God and ask Him to raise up more shepherds, more spiritual leaders whose hearts will break due to the brokenness we see around us on a daily basis.
Will you join our church family and set your alarm clocks for 9:38AM and 9:38PM every day? Will you take just a minute or two, twice a day, and earnestly pray that God raise up more spiritual leaders who will grow into shepherds of God’s people? I’m praying this will be a new movement on all three of our campuses. I’m praying that our church will devote itself to asking the God of the harvest to raise up more workers for the field. God knows we need it. I think you know we need it too!
Vision is a powerful leadership quality. It sets a course, defines a value, and steers a people in a specific direction.
People actually enjoy being led. Some of you reading this might fight against that. But, think about it for a moment. You like to know where you’re going if you’re taking a trip, right? You like to know why you’re going on that trip, correct? Most of all, you want to know what role you play while on the trip. Am I right?
In general, without a solid answer to those three questions, people tend toward chaos. It’s been called, ‘entering into a narrative void’ by marketing writer Donald Miller.
No one enjoys a story without a plot. And likewise, no one wants to come to a service and say to themselves, “Well, let’s just see what happens, huh!”
You innately want to know:
What you’re doing. Why you’re doing it. What role you play.
“Our vision is to create a multi-generational worship experience where everyone participates in singing and applying God’s Word to their lives.”
Believe it or not, it actually took about 3 weeks of 1 ½ to 2 hour meetings to forge that statement. Steve, Blake and I took ample time, prodded each other about wording, and fashioned that statement because of three things …
It tells what we’re doing. It tells why we’re doing it. It gives us all a role to play.
Hebrews 10:25 only gives one clear direction about meeting together as a church body. In a nutshell, don’t quit doing it!
What we do. Why we do it. The role each of us plays when we do it … those aren’t ambiguous, but we get to put flesh on those ideas. We get to say we’ll represent every age group, background and walk of life.
Our vision puts flesh on what we want to do each week at FBC Kenova worship services.You’ll hear us share this vision at the beginning of each of our worship services from here on out. We want it to be memorable. Repetition helps make that happen.
I look forward to Sunday’s worship service. It’s one of the most strengthening moments in my family’s week. It’s all the more edifying knowing what we’re there for, why we’re doing it, and what my role is. May this vision build you up in your faith and give clear direction to your worship.
Every profession has its insider information. Dave Akers knows just how much flour you need to make 45 pizzas. Jack Ferguson recognized exactly what knobs to turn to keep the natural gas flowing to cities in the Northeast. Jim Hamer understood the balance between cutting down timber and planting new trees when the market was low. With everything, there’s a balance.
It’s no different with church staffing. The general rule of thumb is a church of 100 people can support one full-time pastor and one full-time pastor can effectively train, equip and minister to 100 people. It’s a balance. The 100:1 ratio is pretty reliable when planning for church growth as well. If you have 200 people, you need 2 full-time ministerial staff. 300=3. 400=4 and so on and so on.
Right now, our staff is out of balance. We currently have four full-time ministerial staff and a number of part-time staff picking up the slack for around 600-700 people. To be more specific, we have:
1 children’s minister to oversee 100+ children
1 youth minister to minister to 100+ teenagers
1 young adult and finance minister to oversee 50 college students/young adults
2 part-time staff to oversee 50 music ministry/tech team volunteers
That leaves me and Dave Akers (a lay shepherd) to oversee 300-400 adults. That’s not a complaint, I’m just letting the church body know that if we are going to effectively reach more people for Christ, we need to add at least one to two more full-time staff. Think about it, can Dave and I keep up with the personal lives and training and equipping of 150-200 people each? It’s nearly impossible.
That said, church family, in order to increase our ministry effectiveness, we need to at least meet budget for 2018. We are close, but not there yet. In order for me to have someone quit their current job and join our staff, I have to know we have the money to provide for their families. We can say it’s a step of faith on our part, but Jesus said if you are going to build a tower you must first sit down and make sure you’ll have the money to finish the task. Part of me having that confidence is I see that our current members are meeting the budget we have already set.
So again, I want to state unequivocally that I believe we need to reach more people in the Tri-State area. In order to do that, we will need more ministers to minister to them when they start coming. In order to hire more ministers to reach more people, we need to be able to pay them. So here’s where you can help: If you aren’t already giving 10% (tithing) to your church, you need to start doing that. If you are behind on your giving for the year, please go back over your finances and make up the difference. Secondly, if you already are tithing, would you consider increasing your giving by 2-3%? The patterns we see over the next six weeks will help us set our course for 2019. Come join God’s work and let’s keep allowing God to use us, not only to reach the Tri-State, but to keep sending out missionaries all around the world.
Membership is a big deal in the church. It’s an act that signifies core beliefs about the church’s responsibilities toward one another.
See, not everyone likes the idea of accountability. But, when you say you want to renew your membership, you’re saying, ‘yes’ to accountability. A young man may not want to be a part of his girlfriend’s family. But, if he asks her to marry him, he’s saying, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of your family.’
Membership is a series of “Yes” answers you’re making to the entire church body.
“Yes.” I want to be a part of a community of believers holding each other accountable, growing in God’s Word.
“Yes.” I am committed to supporting my family in Christ just like I’m committed to my biological family. Membership is something you’re saying ‘yes’ to.
Every year, current members renew membership at First Baptist Kenova. We started this a few years back. It’s important that every individual renew their own membership. You can’t renew someone else’s membership.
If you’re friends with a new follower of Jesus and they come to you to discuss questions about baptism, you can’t say, “Oh, hey! Don’t worry about baptism. I’ll get baptized for you.” That’s not how it works. They have to baptized. You can’t do it for them.
Membership renewal works the same way. Every person who is an existing member of the body of Christ in First Baptist Kenova has to indicate they want to renew their membership. Husbands cannot renew wives membership, moms can’t renew their teenager’s membership. Everyone has to renew their own.
We appreciate everyone’s help to renew membership. We LOVE you! And we want to know who wants to be a part of the reciprocal love, accountability, and fellowship of Christians at FBCK.
So, remember this week, when “Rip City” time comes, be sure you and your neighbor have pens ready. EVERYONE who wants to remain a member with FBCK needs to indicate that on the welcome slip.
Be sure we have your name! Drop it in the offering plate as it goes by.
Jesus knew His sheep and we want to be sure we know ours … and ours know us. It’s a stronger fellowship when we know we’ve both said, “yes” to one another.
In lieu of reading a messenger article this week, please read Matthew 5, 6, and 7 several times throughout the week to prepare for Sunday’s sermon.
“Ahh, but isn’t this naïve?” the skeptic may ask. No one vote, after all, will be the difference in any election or political decision. Why bother casting a vote that has no meaning?
The first thing to say about such an objection is that it’s a odd way to think about doing anything with a communal element. I may as well decide not to recycle because my individual effort alone will not clean the environment. Nor will my modest charitable gift solve poverty in my community, let alone my country or the world. Yet the combined efforts of Christians can have a staggering effect when taken together, when individuals do not think of their actions entirely through an individualistic lens.
My country, my state, and my town ask for a relatively minor effort on my part to contribute to the common good by expressing my views in the voting booth. Surely the test of whether I submit to this request cannot turn on whether my decision will by itself determine the entire issue.
And there are other reasons for voting. Voting is one measure whereby we learn what it would mean to promote the common good in our particular community. It’s a small but tangible exercise that can lead to even greater involvement in cultivating a just and merciful society. Moreover, we are in good company when we carry our witness about the good into the public square.
John Witte Jr., in his book From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion and Law in the Western Tradition, describes how the early church fathers publicly spoke out in favor of marriage and against evils like child abuse, polygamy, and abortion. These early leaders, who knew a thing or two about persecution and preaching the gospel, loved their neighbors enough to speak to political issues in a system that afforded them no formal power. How much more should we speak out given our political tradition is predicated on the active commitment of an informed citizenry?
Finally, voting as political participation is a way of telling our neighbors—believers and nonbelievers alike—that we too are committed to a vision of the good life. We care about their well-being, even on issues that are secondary to eternal matters. For politics concerns decisions that contribute to a free society in which people can worship, evangelize, provide food for the hungry and clothing to the naked, schools for learning, and justice for the poor. Our Father in heaven knows we need these things too, and he uses our action in the voting booth in part to provide them.
This well-written article is by Micah Watson, an associate professor of political science at Calvin College.
Did you know that your tax dollars (almost $10 million of them) can currently be used for elective abortions? Right now, an expectant mother with government funded health care can find out she’s having a girl (instead of a boy) and use your tax dollars to pay for her sex selection abortion. Yes, that’s a fact.
Did you know that during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, women can request an abortion for any and every reason? That’s the current law.
Did you also know that only 16 other states in the nation require taxpayer funding of abortion?
Voting YES on Amendment 1 will prevent your tax dollars from paying for abortions. But this isn’t about money. It’s about whether or not life in the womb is ordained by God and whether or not an individual or a government should pay to destroy that God-ordained life.
In over 30 years of vocational ministry, I’ve never publicly endorsed any individual candidate for any office. I’ve seen some radical pro-abortion candidates over the years and I haven’t endorsed their opponents. There’s a gray area when it comes to how much a pastor should get involved in politics.
This is NOT one of those times. There is NO gray area here. Aborting a child at 20 weeks is murder. Period. It’s immoral. And our government should not allow it, let alone pay for it.
This year, the West Virginia Legislature
passed a proposed constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot at the
November election. Amendment 1 will say
on your ballot: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion
or requires the funding of an abortion.”
Its purpose is to neutralize our state constitution on the issue of
abortion and allow the state legislature to exercise its appropriate
responsibility for control over the funding of abortion. You will hear a lot of
misinformation about how this is confusing, how women are going to die, how
doctors won’t be able to save a woman’s life …. Don’t believe it.
Following passage of Amendment 1, women in WV will still be able to have abortions under the federal constitution. Personally, I don’t think the amendment goes far enough, but the political reality right now is that this amendment is the best we are going to be able to do this fall. If Amendment 1 passes, our tax dollars would be limited to paying for abortion only in the cases of life of the mother, medical emergency, reported rape and incest and fetal anomaly. If Amendment 1 passes in November, it will help prevent future pro-abortion judges from “finding” abortion rights in the WV Constitution.
I’m voting YES on Amendment One. I’ve never had an easier decision in my voting life. Even if you don’t get into politics, whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent, I would hope you’d make the effort to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. We cannot keep turning our heads and ignoring this problem. Abortion for any and every reason must stop. There have to be some limits. Voting YES on 1 will be a step in the right direction.
As we approach Jesus’ baptism, we see from the Gospel of Mark (1:10) that Jesus was “coming up out of the water” when the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. This is one of the clearest references to baptism by immersion for if Jesus would have only been sprinkled, He wouldn’t have been coming up out of the water.
It’s really unclear as to when baptism started including pouring water over people or, even less than that, a sprinkling with water. Writers Thomas Kidd and Justin Taylor comment:
Some conclusions from historian Everett Ferguson’s magisterial 975-page tome, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Eerdmans, 2009): Is there evidence for infant baptism existing before the second part of the second century? There is general agreement that there is no firm evidence for infant baptism before the latter part of the second century.” (p. 856)
Does this mean that infant baptism didn’t exist? “This fact does not mean that it did not occur, but it does mean that supporters of the practice have a considerable chronological gap to account for. Many replace the historical silence by appeal to theological or sociological considerations.” (p. 856)
Why did infant baptism emerge? “The most plausible explanation for the origin of infant baptism is found in the emergency baptism of sick children expected to die soon so that they would be assured of entrance into the kingdom of heaven.” (p. 856)
When did it catch on and become the dominant understanding of baptism? “There was a slow extension of baptizing babies as a precautionary measure. It was generally accepted, but questions continued to be raised about its propriety into the fifth century. It became the usual practice in the fifth and sixth centuries.” (p. 857)
What was the mode of baptism in the early church? “The comprehensive survey of the evidence compiled in this study give a basis for a fresh look at this subject and seeks to give coherence to that evidence while addressing seeming anomalies. The Christian literary sources, backed by secular word usage and Jewish religious immersions, give an overwhelming support for full immersion as the normal action. Exceptions in cases of a lack of water and especially of sickbed baptism were made. Submersion was undoubtedly the case for the fourth and fifth centuries in the Greek East and only slightly less certain for the Latin West.” (p. 857)
As you can see, the most common mode of baptism was full immersion and it was only after several centuries and theological accommodations that the church began baptizing children at all. From what we can tell, the standard way of doing baptisms in the early church were very similar to how we do it in the Baptist church today: by full immersion.
Do you ever look
back on your life and think, “I had no idea how much my life would change over
the last few months?” Yes, life is full
of surprises. Our plans are only plans.
God’s will is often different than our will.
Being in the ministry doesn’t insulate you from radical life changes. Really, we are no different than anyone else. As we approach Staff Appreciation Day, I’d like to give you a little insight into the personal lives of our folks on staff. This time last year, our staff had no idea that…
…Desiree Sowards would find a job, lose a job, find another job and get pregnant with her third daughter!
….Jeramie Wells would be our front office secretary!
….Kayla Gaskin and Sharon Napier would both give birth to baby boys
….after beating cancer Callie Cicenas would start working at Tri-State Airport again.
….Megan Creasy would be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. We thank the Lord for dietary changes that have made this much better.
….Pam Akers would have two more grandbabies and maybe a third by the time you are reading this! GO WHITNEY!
I say all this to focus on the ladies who either minister around the church or assist their husbands in their ministries. Usually the guys are up front and from the outside it’s difficult to understand the role of a spouse involved in ministry. All of the above females are crucial to the success of FBC Kenova in more ways than you know. When you appreciate our staff, please know that these behind-the-scenes heroes are as important as the people whose names are on the back of your bulletins!
As we head toward our staff appreciation lunch, this year, I’d like to encourage you to make special effort to write notes of encouragement to the staff member(s) that most directly ministers to you. All of us appreciate a supportive word now and then, and your church staff are no different. In many ways the prophet Jeremiah’s words are fulfilled in through our staff. “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” Jeremiah 31:15. Your staff really does love the Lord and you too, so please, make the effort to stop by and give them a hug or a pat on the back. After all, staff are people too.
Last April I was attending a national speaking competition and one young lady blew me away. She was just a senior in high school, but she took the stage in front of 3000 people looking as if she did it every evening of her life. Miss Lindsay Phillips rose to tell the story of abortion survivor, Gianna Jennsen, and then tied it to her own. About halfway through her national championship speech, I began to think, “I’ve got to get this girl to Kenova. Our church needs to hear this story.”
Fortunately, I was able to track down Miss Phillips and she will be joining us this Sunday morning for the purpose of sharing this 10-minute testimony. Let me assure you, it goes perfectly along with my sermon about King Herod and the birth of Jesus. God’s timing is perfect!
In addition, we will be led in worship by the Jason Lovins band. Jason and the guys attend our church regularly and when I confirmed Lindsay joining us on October 7th, I knew we had to book them as Jason has a pro-life testimony of his own. Jason is another fine example of a child that many would have said he didn’t have a chance, yet God had wonderful plans of His own for Jason's life. We serve an amazing God and you will be greatly encouraged this Sunday.
I hope you are able to invite a friend to attend with you. Between the worship, testimony, and preaching, you will cry, laugh, and experience God’s grace in perhaps a way you have not understood Him before.
Personally, I can’t wait!
- Dinah and the prince of Shechem. Two teenagers at a party. Alone. They wander off alone. The girl gets raped and the brothers murder the offender as an act of revenge.
- Reuben and his step-mother Bilhah. The two are alone in a tent one day. Bad things happen. Jacob finds out and disowns his son.
- Judah and Tamar. A father-in-law with his daughter-in-law. Unlawful relations. A child born out of wedlock.
- Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. A young man working in the house with his boss’ wife. She accuses him of rape. He cannot prove himself innocent. He spends more than a decade in prison.
- Samson and Delilah. She seduces him. He loses his eyes in the process. Ouch!
- David and his captain’s wife, Bathsheba. She comes over for dinner while her husband is out of town. Don’t worry about it. It’s just dinner! Soon there’s a murder and a dead baby.
- Amnon and Tamar. A step-brother invites his step-sister into his bedroom. You just know this story isn’t going to end well.
I could keep going but I’ll just stop less than a third of the way through the Bible. You don’t have to read very far to see a reoccurring theme. When unmarried men and women find themselves alone together, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Sometimes I wonder just how many times the Bible has to tell a similar story before God’s people figure it out. Man + woman + alone with no one else around = T-R-O-U-B-L-E
Yet the deception of exception fools parents, teens, married men & women alike. “I know all those people in the Bible couldn’t handle it, but my situation will be different.” Famous last words.
Whether it’s teens at a party, adults on a work assignment, or extended family members gathered for the holidays, please church family, stop playing with fire. Please learn from the biblical examples as well as what is going on in our culture today. Protect your kids and your own reputations from being besmirched in the eyes of the world.
As followers of Christ, it’s not just your name that is on the line.
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
Time usually flies but to me, our first unity night feels like a long time ago, but in reality, it was just three years ago. FBC Ashland hadn’t partnered with us as of yet. Between us and MCF, we’ve had over 100 baptisms since that time. Our weekly worship attendance has nearly doubled. God is certainly on the move.
But as we prepare our hearts for this Sunday night, I want to remind us that Unity Night is more than a concert. This is about three congregations coming together as one church to glorify God. 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 God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. May His glory be shown among us this Sunday night!
It was great to have the full choir leading worship this past Sunday. They add an incredible aspect to our worship services. I’m sure the entire congregation would say the same!
A few people have asked for an update in our search for a choir director. The reality is that we are no closer now than what we were when Andy Honeycutt announced his resignation last April. It’s not that we haven’t tried. We’ve posted our information on over 100 websites, partnered with a search company, and interviewed a handful of candidates. None of these efforts, however, have produced much fruit.
I personally met with the choir about a month ago and asked them their opinion as to how to move forward. We agree we want a quality choir director who has excellent people and musical skills. For this to be a full-time job, however, a candidate must serve in some other capacity in the church such as administration, visitation, counseling, etc. The main thing is that we find the right “fit” for our congregation, and we trust that will happen in the Lord’s time.
In the meantime, choir practices have been moved to the first Sunday evening of each month. In one 2-hour practice from 4-6pm, the choir will work to prepare a month’s worth of songs to either open our worship services or sing specials for the offertory time. After each practice, the church is providing a meal for the choir participants as many of them serve in other ministries at 6:30pm.
For now, Josh Sowards has agreed to serve in the interim. It’s a new challenge for him, but until we find the person we believe God has for us, we know Josh will lead with integrity of heart and a joy to serve the Lord. While Josh is leading, he would love for many of you to join choir, especially as they are only practicing one Sunday a month. They will also make arrangements for child care if that’s what has prevented you from being in the choir in the past. If you can carry a tune in a bucket, come join them!
This upcoming Sunday we will begin our new Sunday School classes including additional classes for THE ACADEMY. THE ACADEMY is a certificate-level program where members can take one class from several different theological disciplines. THE ACADEMY classes will provide people a learning experience in each of the following areas:
Old Testament Bible: This semester Isaac McCown is teaching Pentateuch and Bill Davenport is teaching the Historical Books (Joshua-Esther).
New Testament Bible: Jerrod Workman is teaching the Gospels and Larry Lucas/TJ Adkins are teaching the Book of Acts.
Missions: Sharon Napier and Jerry Saulton: Intro to World Missions.
Systematic Theology: Isaac’s class would count for an elective in this category as well.
Practical Theology. Chris Ball is teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Caleb Jones Celebrate Recovery. Dave Akers Biblical Manhood. Sarah Murray Biblical Womanhood.
Participants will receive a certificate for completing one class in each category. Participants who complete two classes in each category will receive an advanced certificate and those who complete three classes in each category will receive an ACADEMY Diploma.
Our hope is that many of you will take a 17-week class in one of the above areas. We will have fall semesters, spring semesters, and summer semesters. If you would prefer to keep your own class, that is fine, but we are also wanting to challenge the congregation to mature in a broader range of biblical knowledge and a broader range of teachers. Current existing classes are Jason Brumfield teaching Deuteronomy and Jack Ferguson is finishing the book of Jeremiah.
Please get involved in one of our classes and be blessed by the varying teaching styles from the diverse set of teachers with whom God has blessed our church. --Steve
This upcoming Sunday we want to announce our new classes, new teachers, and roll out the schedule for THE ACADEMY which will be a certificate-level program where members can take one class from several different theological disciplines. THE ACADEMY will provide people a learning experience in each of the following areas.
- Old Testament Bible (e.g. overview of
Torah, Historical Books, Poetry, Major and Minor Prophets)
- New Testament Bible (e.g. overview of
the Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles, Revelation)
- Missions (e.g. Personal evangelism,
World Religions, Intro to World Missions, Local and National Missions)
- Systematic Theology (Various apologetic
courses, Angelology and Anthropology, Trinitarianism, How we Got our Bible,
Creationism, Soteriology and Ecclesiology)
- Practical Theology (Teaching and
Preaching, Biblical Parenting, Spiritual Leadership for Men and Women, Biblical
Ethics and Spiritual Disciplines, Discipleship 101)
Participants will receive a certificate
for completing one class in each category. Participants who complete two
classes in each category will receive an advanced certificate and those who
complete three classes in each category will receive an ACADEMY Diploma.
Our hope is that many of you will take a 17-week class in one of the above areas. We will have fall semesters, spring semesters, and summer semesters. If you would prefer to keep your own class, that is fine, but we are also wanting to challenge the congregation to mature in a broader range of biblical knowledge and a broader range of teachers. This helps us to get to know one another and be exposed to different teaching styles from the diverse set of teachers with whom God has blessed our church.
The Bible teaches us to be careful not to judge others as being inferior to ourselves. There's no person that doesn't struggle with self-righteousness. In some way we all judge people who don't do things the way WE would do things as somehow inferior. We think we know best. We must guard ourselves from thinking things like....
If your son doesn’t play sports, you’re not as good as I am
If your daughter doesn’t cheer or dance, you’re not as good as I am.
If you don’t send your kids to Christian school
If you don’t send your kids to public schools
If you don’t homeschool
If you don’t vote democrat, or republican
If you don’t recycle,
If you don’t go to Marshall
If you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend
If you don’t lift your hands in worship
If you don’t like to sing songs from KLOVE or WALK FM
If you don’t sing the hymns I like
If you don’t have any kids
If you have too many kids
If you don’t work in the Garage
If you don’t teach AWANA
Drive an American made car
If you’re not following Paleo or a vegan diet
If you ARE following paleo or a vegan diet
If you don’t have a nice house
If you live in too nice of a house
If you’re not from Barboursville
....the list goes on and on.
Let's watch judging one another for living out our Christian freedoms in different ways.
Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? – Job 12:12
No kid likes it when they have a disagreement with their parents and the mom or dad says, “Someday you’ll understand.” It doesn’t matter if you’re 6, 16 or 26, it feels almost patronizing when someone older than you assumes you don’t know something just because of your age. I hated when parents told me as a youth pastor, “Just wait until you have teenagers. THEN, you’ll understand.”
But that’s kind of Job’s point. There are certain things you just don’t understand until you go through them. It’s impossible to understand the emotions that come with the birth of a child unless you’ve been through it. One can’t fully empathize with a couple who struggles with infertility unless they themselves have gone through an extended period of time fighting the emotions that come with the fear of being unable to bear a biological child. Whether it’s going through a divorce, discrimination in the workplace, being bullied at school, or, in my case, marrying off one of your children, one just can’t understand the emotions that go with certain life circumstances until or unless you go through them yourself.
This was never truer to me as I watched Titus share his original vows with his new bride. Here was a boy who learned how to write at the tutelage of me and his mother but now was using those skills to commit himself to a lifelong covenant with the woman he loved. Here was a young man who I taught how to budget now responsible for his own car savings, repairs, rent, tuition and fees, and the life of a young lady whose father, Mike Troutt, sat just across the aisle from me. I remember thinking, “Poor Mike. Everything he’s poured into his little girl is now in the hands of a young man he barely knows.”
Then I looked behind Titus’ bride, and there as one of her bridesmaids was Johnna Willis. Perhaps this time next year, or a summer not long from now, I’ll be in the same position as Mike Troutt. Wow. Just wow.
No one could have prepared me for that moment. People have told me about it, but it’s one of those things that until you go through it, you just cannot understand. In my case it was bittersweet. I love my son’s new bride, so I feel like I’ve gained a daughter, but at the same time I feel like I’ve lost something as well.
As we counsel our friends through the seasons and challenges of life, let’s be careful when we use the words, “I understand,” if we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. Sometimes we don’t know quite what to say, and the more difficult the situation, maybe the less words the better. Maybe, “I’m here for you if you need someone to listen,” is the best response we can give.
Celebrate one another’s successes. Bear one another’s burdens. Amen.
Since I was 7 years old listening to my mamaw and papaw “start hymns” in their Independent Fundamental Freewill Baptist Church to now, music has always had an almost magical influence on my life. Over the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen the impact of music in the lives of Jesus’ followers more than ever. See, music - singing - dance and theatre. They connect all people at an emotional and spiritual level unique among all arts and sciences
Go to Africa … they sing for joy or to express sorrow. They sing to give praise. What about India? Same story. They’ll sing for joy, during tragedy and in gladness. China, Japan, Europe, South America and even the arctic … music pervades the most important values of every culture! Listen to “He Reigns” by Newsboys if you’re not familiar with it. It’s a great example of this.
Take a few moments to look at the examples given in the Bible. You’ll notice something. Singing is always done in groups! Large groups. Small groups. But, always in groups.
- Take Miriam
and Moses in Exodus 15 - They’re leading - all Israel is singing!
- Look at Ezra
and Nehemiah at the rebuilding of the temple in Nehemiah 12:31 - they round up the
leaders of Israel, the priests, and send the choir around the new wall with
David’s instruments and strike up the band!
- What about
New Testament samples? Look at Paul and the early church in Colossians (3:16)
and Ephesians (5:19) - The believers are meeting together singing songs that encourage one another and build each other up. They’re directing
their songs to the Lord.
Those examples leave out all the Psalms we could reference where priests wrote songs for the choirs to sing century after century. And King David did a fair bit of “solo” work himself. Music, singers, choir … they make up the biblical worship of all believers.
On that note … music, singers and the choir. They’re an intimate, irreplaceable part of our congregation’s weekly worship. As Steve said in his message last week, no one is “in the hopper” to replace Andy and the incredible ministry and direction he brought the choir. But that service to the body of believers isn’t going anywhere!
In the meantime - I offer my humble direction. Singing is one of the most important aspects of communal worship. It totally unites us in moments of melody, chorus, and refrain. It simply can’t be lost.
We’ll make some schedule adjustments for rehearsals. And we’ll have some leaders in the choir step-up to help lead sections and learn parts. Then we’ll do what any group, team, or company does to become excellent - we’ll practice.
We need updated information from many of our members in order to more effectively communicate with our church family. If you have recently moved or cancelled your landline, please call the church office or text me directly. If you are unsure whether or not we have the correct information, feel free to call in with your contact information. Our Pastors, Shepherds, and Deacons would greatly appreciate it! Also, if you have a specific need for prayer be sure to put it on your prayer card at church or call the church office. Thank you for your help.--Jeramie
Most of you are
familiar with a children’s summertime ministry called “Nic at Night.” For nearly ten years we saw thousands of
children in our region come to this ministry that involved the entire
community. Two of my own children gave their lives to Jesus as a result of “Nic
The first time we participated in Nic at Night was at a friend of mine’s church plant in Myrtle Beach, SC. The pastor and creator of the creative ministry is Mac Lake, who just so happened to grow up across the street from me in Pratt, WV. Mac is 9 years my senior, and I pretty much learned how to be a Christian teenager by watching him live out his faith.
Today Mac is the lead trainer for the entire Southern Baptist Convention and their church plants. He also serves as a consultant for leadership training across the country. Mac recently visited our congregation and was blown away by how much we’ve progressed over the last ten years, not only at our Kenova campus, but through our partnerships with HCC and Ashland as well.
Mac recognized our strengths as biblical teaching, character development, and passion for missions and outreach both locally and around the world. He loved our church family atmosphere and the sense of community that we’ve created. He even called the executive minister of the SBC in Nashville and encouraged them to find ways to replicate how we’ve revitalized an established congregation while simultaneously planting a collegiate ministry at Marshall.
But Mac also identified some definite weaknesses when it comes to leadership development. All of our staff recognized our deficiencies in some of these areas, but Mac pinpointed some specific ways we needed to improve right away. The most significant need for improvement was that our staff are doing too much of working with new volunteer leaders instead of training volunteer leaders to do the recruiting and training of new workers. We have too many staff doing the ministry ourselves instead of developing a leadership pipeline where we grow more and more people into positions of spiritual and administrative leadership in the church. In a nutshell, we have to organize around the principle of leadership development instead of just mobilizing volunteers for the works of service.
Please be praying for us as we continue in this training and attempting to move forward in these areas. It’s pretty much a new thinking process for our entire staff but we realize we need to do better if we are going to be more effective in reaching our world for Christ. Good things are coming and we are going to need your help in making it happen!
Hey everyone, in case you didn’t get to meet me this past week, my name is Taylor Troutt, soon to be Taylor Willis. I want to thank the entire church for welcoming me to your church family, especially those whom I met at the incredible shower we had last Thursday. Titus and I cannot thank you enough.
Just to let you know a little about me, I grew up in Houston, TX and my life revolved around two things: church and softball. My father is an Army chaplain and former baseball player so between him and my Jesus-loving mother, I was raised to love the Lord and be a competitor on the field. During my senior year in high school I received an offer to play Division 1 softball at Columbia University, which is where I met Titus at a campus ministry group. After four years of hard work, God blessed me to become the Ivy League Player of the Year and to be listed as 3rd-team all-American (Pastor Steve made me include that!).
I really love playing softball, but the more I saw the lostness on Columbia’s campus, my heart’s passion became to minister with college students like so many others had ministered to me. When Titus received his scholarship to Duke Law, it enabled me to live out my dream of attending Southeastern Baptist Seminary which is just 27 miles from Duke’s campus. In addition, when Duke’s Campus Crusade for Christ staff learned that I was moving to the area, they informed me that they have been praying for a female athlete to reach out to the ladies on their campus. With my experience as a college athlete, and with my academic credentials as an Ivy League graduate, God has given me an incredible platform that will gain credibility on a campus that greatly values excellence in both academics and athletics. Plus, with my future husband being a student there, it’s really a perfect fit for my gifts and abilities.
So as your missionary to Duke’s campus, right now my goals are to 1) build relationships with the softball team during fall workouts 2) start a freshman Bible study and 3) train the current students already involved with Duke CRU ministries to have gospel conversations with at least 200 students this fall. Those are big goals, but with your prayers and the Lord’s help, I know it can happen!
I plan on updating a blog bi-weekly throughout the year with specific things happening on campus and several ways that you can be praying for me and for Cru at Duke! If you would like to receive these updates, please contact me or call the church office by August 1 to add your name and email. Thank you and may God warm you with His love!
For the past two weeks the world has watched as a Thai soccer team was trapped in a deep labyrinth of flooded caves. Thinking they were just going to explore a small section of the caves, and wanting to cool off after a hot day of practice, the boys went a few hundred yards below the surface, only to find themselves trapped when monsoon rains flooded the entryway. As waters began to rise, the boys and their 25-year-old coach were pushed further and further into the cave system trying to find a place of refuge. After many hours of searching and fleeing, eventually the boys found high ground in the pitch darkness, nearly a thousand feet beneath the earth's surface.
Most thought the boys dead, but a couple of diligent and valiant scuba divers found the entrapped squad some eight days later. Almost miraculously, without food or clean drinking water for over a week, the boys were alive and in good condition. The entire world came together and lent time, treasure, and talent to rescue these boys from mortal danger. One Navy Seal even lost his life getting oxygen to the entrapped children.
For the church, this is our call to mission, except in our case, it’s not mere physical life that is on the line. The issue is literally a matter of eternal life or death. The call to take the gospel to a world entrapped in sin, to people with no chance of making it out of their own accord, must be paramount in our lives. To the call to save the lost, we give our treasure. And for some of us, like the Navy Seal, we give our very lives.
No matter what your walk of life, people around you are stuck in the cave of sin on a daily basis. You have the oxygen tanks, the diving skills, the map, the only hope of their rescue. Rush into the caves of dying people and point them to the only Savior who can redeem their very souls!
Thank you church for your faithful giving! It is because of your faithfulness that our (children and youth) Camp Cowen budget lines are even established. We have been able to meet families halfway on covering the cost of a weeklong experience like no other. This past Saturday, we returned from Junior II camp with 35 campers and 10 leaders (thank you also for your dedication and desire to serve our Lord through counseling). Jeremy has another 60 campers (and a bunch of counselors) going in the coming weeks – Praise the Lord!!!
If anyone who has never gone to Cowen wants to know what the experience is like, read the Book of Acts. Acts 2 shares “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (Hylbert, Vespers and Campfire) and to fellowship (everywhere), to the breaking of bread (all meals) and to prayer (throughout the day). Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts (camp). They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (many were saved or rededicated their life to the Lord). Camp Cowen is a picture of what “church” should look like.
Cowen has a huge impact upon the campers and often an even bigger impact upon the counselors. I have had the blessing of teaching at either Vespers or at camp fire for several years now. As I was preparing for Thursday’s camp fire, I was studying the life of Jonah. My thought was that it would make for a great teaching moment for the campers – obedience. Jonah 1:1-2 shares “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Jonah ran the other way
It wasn’t until after reading verse 17 many times (“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah”), that God’s grace was clearly shown. We have all experienced “storms” in our life. Let us not focus on the storm itself but rather seek to see His grace through this time. Jehovah Jireh = The Lord will provide.
Our Guatemala mission team returned early this morning, June 19th . We had a fantastic trip and to give you a
glimpse of what we did each day, details are below.
Day 1 – We drove to Lexington to stay the night at the hotel and prepare our team for the upcoming travel day.
Day 2 - Flew to Atlanta. Our activity involved airport evangelism and singing worship during our lay over. We
landed in Guatemala City and bussed to Antigua.
Day 3 - We started our day in devotion, prayer and worship on the roof of our bed and breakfast. In our view
only six miles away was Fuego, the volcano that erupted and took the lives of hundreds just weeks prior. After
devotion we drove to the city of Antigua, then a 6-hour drive to Hope of Life, our destination for the week.
Day 4 - After our morning devotion we were given a tour of Hope of Life. We visited the elderly home, Kelly’s
Place (a place for special needs children), the orphanage and hospital. We then went to a place they call, “the
dump” to serve food and play with kids.
Day 5 - Our mission team re-built a road that was washed away by the torrential downpour the night before.
After lunch we worked on the Conner’s house (long term missionaries to Guatemala) and we formed rebar at
the new clinic.
Day 6 – We worked on rebar and unloading trucks at the clinic, worked on rebar at the Conner’s house and
moved concrete for some houses. After lunch we went to the orphanage to get ready for VBS and hung out at
the elderly home, hospital and Kelly’s Place.
Day 7 - VBS with orphans, free time for elderly home, Kelly’s place and the hospital. Later that evening we
swam with the orphanage kids and treated them to pizza and cupcakes. We then had our nightly debrief over
campfire. We were also able to induct some of the long-term missionary students into the “ooga-booga” club.
Day 8 – We went to church. Our students were able to play/sing and I was asked to preach the Word. Our
long-term missionary, Bryan Saulton, led worship in Spanish. After church our students were able to visit their
favorite places, the elderly home, Kelly’s place or the hospital to hold babies. That night we were asked to
have a rare private dinner with the Hope of Life founder, Carlos Vargas. Our dinner was held on the roof top of
the café. When asked why we were invited to dinner, knowing he never has these special dinners with
students, only the “big wigs.” he said, “this was the best team we ever had.”
Day 9 - Traveled home
My favorite moments were our nightly debriefs. It was amazing to hear the daily stories of how the student’s
experiences had impacted their lives. This successful mission trip was a team effort that included the entire
church body. Once again, we thank you for supporting us financially and through your prayers.
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