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April 4, 2017, 1:48 PM

April 5, 2017

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:24-25           

     Why do people stop going to church?  Some stop going and vow never to return.  There are probably as many reasons not to attend church as there are churches.  A recent article interviewed four individuals to get a better understanding of why some do not attend church.  The reasons are numerous and varied but often involved hurt feelings.  There is no doubt we all need fellowship, encouragement, and love.  It is very easy to get our eyes away from the real focus of church as many attend church for the wrong reasons.  Until we get a true understanding of our role in the local church we will probably continue to have many difficulties along the way.

     As I read the article, two significant issues seemed to prevail.  From the information given, there seemed to be a recurring issue centered around a lack of commitment to God.  The past few generations have been so enamored with worldly issues that there has been very little room left for quality time with God.  Church attendance seems to have become a habit rather than a commitment.  Many attend church with the idea of “going through the motions” without the real since of worship and service.  This is often a reflection of very little commitment to Bible study and prayer at home.  We cannot expect church attendance to make up for a lack of commitment during the

     Another recurring issue focused on the concept of “me”.  Many today are expecting the church to be the place where all personal “wants” are provided.  However, the purpose of the Church is to glorify Christ and edify the Body.  We do that as we worship God together and serve Him both inside and outside the church using the gifts He has bestowed upon us.  We have become a nation of spoiled citizens.  As such, we have brought many of those same feelings into our Christian lives.  There is so much more to worship and service than having our personal wants met through church attendance.

     There are no simple solutions to the varied reasons many people will not attend church.  However, we must keep in mind that the Church is made up of saved sinners (including the pastor) who do not have everything right.  We should be striving to be more like Jesus each day which means putting away the things of the flesh and yearning for the things of God.  Will there be times of struggle and conflict?  Will there be times when things are not exactly as we like them?  Will there be times of frustration?  The answer to those questions is a resounding yes!  However, as we are growing daily in our walk with God, we become much more focused on pleasing Him rather than ourselves.  Our true understanding of worship and fellowship has its starting point in personal time with God.

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia

March 28, 2017, 1:57 PM

March 29, 2017

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20

What is the “big picture”?  How important is the “big picture”?  The big picture is to share Jesus with the world and as Christians it is extremely important.   Satan is constantly diverting our attention from the real reason we are here.  It is very easy to get caught up in the distractions.  After all, the distractions can become very appealing.  One of the ways the enemy uses to distract us is to diminish the significance of the “great commission”.  So, the enemy desires to make our calling seem unnecessary and unimportant.  He puts forth the lie that all religions are the same and that they all lead to God.  Therefore, as Christians, we are encouraged to back off from the great commission because everyone’s religion will lead them safely home.  As a result, we are able to spend more time on us while forgetting about the world.

                The sad truth is that many Christians seem to be involved in this great deception.  In many ways, we have lost the enthusiasm and excitement of Christianity and the desire to see others come to faith in Jesus Christ.  Are we encouraged and excited about our relationship with God?  It is so much more than a “belief” in God.  The Scripture tells us that even the demons do that!  God has given us a door of opportunity within our own country for a time.  However, do not think it will last forever.  The spirit of the antichrist continues to be real and growing around us.  Just consider the attitudes of our culture.  We must become serious about our calling.  It is not easy and it takes time to do the work that God has called us to do.  He has called us to be disciple-makers and to be fully engaged in sharing the Good News with others while teaching them by example. 

                As Southern Baptists, we understand that we cannot do all the work ourselves.  We cooperate with other churches to pray, support missionaries around the world and to physically join hand in hand to make a difference in the lives of others.  One way that we do that is through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  Please ask God about the support you are to give toward this offering so that we can team with others to share the amazing grace of our loving Lord.  Also, please begin praying about VBS which is just around the corner.  There are many ways to help and you will receive such a blessing in the process.  Please be sure to pick up a star from the foyer as a daily reminder to pray for our VBS.  Pray for our workers and children that God’s truth will penetrate every heart and that we will in turn be even more committed to the big picture.  Have a great week as you go about sharing Jesus with others!

                                                                                                                                We love you,

                                                                                                                                Brad and Virginia             

March 21, 2017, 4:58 PM

March 22, 2017

“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:17-18

            How many of us have labored long and hard to build a sandcastle only to have it washed away a few hours later?  Sand can be easily eroded by wind and water.  Sand in small quantities can become very irritating.  We’ve probably all tracked sand from the beach into our rooms and even into our beds.  Even though sand can sometimes be a nuisance, it also has many important qualities as well.  Sand mixed with concrete helps fill voids and pores, helps solidify the mixture and prevents excessive shrinkage resulting in fewer cracks.  When sand is gathered in large quantities, such as the ocean floor, it can hold massive ships in place as the ship’s anchor buries into it.

            Throughout the Bible, there are many references to sand.  Abraham was told that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the sand on the seashore.  We are told that Joseph stored up so much grain while he was in Egypt that it was like the sand of the sea.  Now, we understand that these are not literal comparisons but that God meant a very large number.  Look carefully at the passage above.  David shared an important statement that is very encouraging to us.  David reminds us that God’s thoughts towards us outnumber the sand.  Think about how many grains of sand it takes to hold a huge ship in place.  Then, remember that God has so many more thoughts toward us each day.

            God loves us so much and desires such a close fellowship with us!  Some will not allow that fellowship because they do not know Him.  Others may know Him but have become too busy to enjoy close fellowship.  Still others, like David, understand a close walk with God and realize He has countless thoughts toward them each day.  Just as sand has many benefits to concrete, so God’s thoughts toward us solidify and fill the voids in our life daily.  Also, unlike a sandcastle, God’s thoughts, love and grace are never washed away. David said, “when I awake, I am still with You”!  Wow, what an understanding of God’s love and care for us!  When we wake up in the morning we realize we are still in His hands and His thoughts are toward us.  Are you experiencing true fellowship with God? 

                                                                                                                                                         We love you,

                                                                                                                                                         Brad and Virginia

March 14, 2017, 1:05 PM

March 15, 2017

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; new things have come.”   2 Corinthians 5:17

    Just when we thought spring had arrived, we are harshly reminded that winter desires to hang on a little longer.  It also reminds us that things are not always what they appear to be and that things can change very abruptly.  However, as we remain patient, spring will officially arrive along with the beauty of the season.  As we look forward to spring, we think of the flowers, gardens and outdoor activities that will take place.  We will then focus on new life emerging as we move from the dreary days of winter to the exciting days of spring.  As we think of new life, we must focus on the new life we have in Jesus.

    The Scripture passage above reminds us that “in Christ all things are made new”.  We cannot help but think of all the beauty associated with the months approaching.  However, there are some other things that can happen with the arrival of spring.  Have you ever been to an abandoned estate to see what was once a beautiful, thriving flower garden?  Maybe you saw a rose bush that had become all gnarled and overgrown from years of neglect.  Maybe you’ve owned a tree or shrub that had been overtaken by more aggressive vines and plants that appeared to be hopeless to save.  You then took the time to clean the aggressive vine and plants away, pruned it and even added some fertilizer.  What happened?  Amazingly the once hopeless looking tree or shrub put on new growth and began to bloom because of the special care it had been given.

    What does that help us remember?  It reminds us of the love and care God has for us in His Son, Jesus.  Have worldly weeds and vines overtaken your life?  Whether you have never known Him or have strayed away, God desires a relationship and close fellowship with you.  In either case, God must remove the clutter and aggression of the world so that you will be useful in the Kingdom.  Oftentimes, God’s pruning and cleaning in our lives is painful but it is always for our benefit.  God wants us blooming in an otherwise cold and dull world.  If you do not know Him, you can become His child today by repenting of your sins and asking Jesus to save you.  If you do know Him but have strayed from fellowship with Him, ask Him to remove the worldly vines that so easily entangle us so that you are growing, blooming and revealing Jesus to a lost world.  Praying you are having a great week!

                                                                                                                                                         We love you,

                                                                                                                                                         Brad and Virginia

March 7, 2017, 10:30 AM

March 8, 2017

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

     As we approach springtime, we seem to feel better and have a brighter outlook.  The days are starting to get longer and there is something refreshing about more hours of light.  If physical light has so many positive effects on our life, spiritual light has even more.  Spiritually, the world is a very dark place.  The Bible is very clear that those who have the light (Jesus) have the true light of life because He is the light of the world.  As we look at the world today, relatively few people have the light of life.  We are told that there are some 2.3 billion Christians in the world today which makes up about 32 percent of the population.  Of those who call themselves Christians, how many have a personal relationship with Jesus and would be counted as His followers?

     The Bible is also clear that Jesus is the only one who can provide the light of life.  Without Him, darkness invades our thinking, our actions, and our culture.  If you were the enemy trying to keep people away from the light, what would your strategy be to accomplish the task?  First, you would probably develop many forms of false gods and false worship.  Then, you would probably tell people that there are really many ways to a glorious eternal life and that every religion and form of worship is just as good as any other.  If that were not enough, you would develop ways to make the ones who do know the truth keep it to themselves and not understand the real need to share with others.  Finally, you would probably develop ways to make those who know the truth appear mean and uncaring toward the rest of society.  We see these tactics of the enemy alive and well all around us.

     The truth is: We serve an exclusive Jesus!  We live in a culture that promotes inclusivity at every opportunity.  People desire to include everyone because that shows compassion and caring.  So, we have our government, corporations, schools, and even many churches mandating classes on inclusion and tolerance because we care about everyone.  We are told that we show how much we care about them by accepting every lifestyle and religious belief.  The sad fact is that the inclusive attitude really pushes people farther away from the truth.  As Christians, we are hated by so many because we love people enough to tell them the truth.  The truth is this:  Jesus is the only way for salvation, He is the only One who brings light to our lives and He is the only way through whom we can have a relationship with a holy and just God.  Because of these words of truth, we are greatly despised in the world.  Keep on telling the truth!

                                                                                                                                      We love you,

                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

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