Easter is just two weeks away (March 31st). Wow, that sort of sneaked up on you didn’t it? But, it is true. Have you planned your Easter meal? Got your Easter basket? How about your Easter bonnet? Wait, that really is old school. Forget the hat!
More importantly, have you started inviting your friends and family to come to church with you on Easter? It is still true that even in today’s world, people are more open to attending church on Easter than any other time of the year. The trick is to just ask.
By the way, the stumbling block in this plan is not the ones we want to invite. It’s us. As believers, we have the most important message in the world, yet we struggle to share it. Our challenge is to figure out how to ask them to slow down just one Sunday morning to come to church with you to hear a message that has the power to change them.
How do we learn to get better at inviting? Well, here are a couple of things to consider:
- Avoid the churchy language. Stay away from phrases like “washed in the blood”, “praise the Lord”, and other phrases from the “land of Zion”. If we are going to reach people who are not involved in church, we need to use language they can understand. Use terms they are already familiar with. Stuff like “really nice people”, “good music”, or “pretty cool preacher”.
- Pitch the benefits. Tell your prospective guests how they may benefit from attending. Talk to them about learning stuff that will make their life better. Tell them they will not be bored. If it applies, tell them about the great children’s program. Tell them you are going to take them to lunch (only if true, lol).
- Help alleviate their fears. Tell them the roof won’t cave in on them if they attend. Assure them they will not be embarrassed or put on the spot in anyway. Tell them what to expect. Remind them they can “come as they are”.
Bottom line: we have the greatest message in the world to share. And, each one of us know people who need to hear it. Let’s get on with it! The clock’s ticking.
From Wednesday March 13, it will be exactly 100 days until the Ukraine mission trip. This isn’t going to be an exciting time in the life of our church; it already is an exciting time for our church. God has already been at work and let me share with you what he has been doing.
At this time God has called eight members of First Baptist Church to serve in the Ukraine on this trip.
Gerald Ethridge Randall Frantz
Lauri Edwards Tia Quattlebaum
David Traywick Jamie Wallace
Nick Wallace Stephen Frantz
God has given us our assignment. We will be working in the towns of Chervoni Shlyax and Zarorskla. These are two new works started last summer outside the city of Poltava where we were last summer. We will be working alongside Ross, Kasey and Isaiah. We will also be working with the couple that helped start the new works in these towns last summer.
God has given us others to seek counsel and work alongside. We will be working with FBC Crossett Arkansas again this year. They will be working with the two churches we were at last year. We will meet together every morning and evening. They are also helping to give us advice in our planning for the Bible Schools.
Most importantly, God has given us You. This partnership with Ross, Kasey and the people of the Ukraine is only possible because we are a church family. It takes all of us working together as we follow where God is leading us. Your prayers will open the doors needed as the team arrives, will enable parents to let children come to the Bible schools and open hearts as God’s word is shared. The team will be seeking out prayer partners but don’t wait for them to come to you. Choose a team member and let them know you will be praying for them. Ask them to share requests and praises with you.
As we progress with the planning we will share with you other ways you can help out. There will be supplies to gather, gifts for Ross and Kasey etc. Also some of the team members will be needing some help to finish raising the funds to go. Please let Randall or the office know if God is leading you to help.
Like I said this is an exciting time but only if you are a part. Continue to pray and see where you can be involved.
Have you heard about the new miniseries called The Bible? The Bible is an epic five-week, 10 hour television miniseries premiering March 3, 2013 on the History Channel from Emmy Award winning husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. For two hours each Sunday night (rebroadcast Monday on Lifetime and Wednesday on History Channel) millions of viewers will see the Bible come to life in a way never before seen. The final episode of the series will air on Easter Sunday and will feature the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This series may be the best opportunity in years to engage our friends and family in a conversation about our faith. While the miniseries, The Bible, is not a documentary, it is a scripted, acted docudrama filmed on location in the Middle East and Morocco. Inspired by re-watching the classic Ten Commandments film, the Mark Burnett and Roma Downey set out to show the scarlet thread of redemption found in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, using the latest special effects and quality film-making techniques.
It appears that millions of people will watch this event. And, I want us to be ready to engage them in conversation about the show. Here at FBCGC, we will use the series as a basis for our Sunday AM teaching series for the five weeks leading up to and through Easter. We will use some video clips from the upcoming show that night to engage in a conversation about where the story is going to lead us.
I want to encourage you to get involved with this program. We have purchased some special themed postcards you can use to hand out as invitations to your friends and neighbors. I want you to invite them to come with you on Sunday mornings and experience the life changing message of the Bible.
Some of you may want to host a Home Viewing Party in your home for the five Sunday evenings of the miniseries. This could be a great opportunity to spend some time with your neighbors by watching this program together. Then, as questions come up from the program, you could be available to talk. And, you can then invite attendees to our sermon series and/or Easter services. This is the outreach opportunity you have been waiting
We just finished our series on allowing God to build our faith. And, our faith is what grows in a healthy relationship. The more we allow God to build our faith in a healthy relationship with Him, the more our confidence in God grows. That confidence allows us to depend on the fact that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he has promised to do.
Look, we all face uncertainties – tough times and hard to figure out problems. There are situations that seem impossible to solve; sickness that is impossible to cure; burdens too hard to bear; a problem that is impossible to muster; a past that is impossible to forget; a habit that is impossible to break; a relationship that is impossible to restore. In our limited way of seeing, we can vision no way out.
But, hear the Good News. We have hope! And our hope is Jesus. Read how He sees our situation, “Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matt. 19:26.
Imagine how different your life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. How differently you would respond to hard times, troubles and tough situations if you knew for certain that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good. Think you would see things differently? And, that’s what God desires for you to have – complete confidence that God is with you and that He will see you through it all.
So, here is a recap of the prayer I want us to learn to pray every day: “God, I know that you are real and are in heaven. I know that you know my name because you made me – you are my creator and my sustainer. And, God, I believe you when you tell me that you desire the absolute best for my life and that you are with me in all things. Therefore, I am not going to worry about things today. I will trust you for the outcome.”
Pray that every day (or numerous times if you need to) and watch your life change.
There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today. – Handley C. G. Moule
Our current message series is called “Big Faith” and is based on the idea that God’s desire is to help us create such a strong faith in Him that we can trust Him for everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly – in our lives. And, we have looked at the four key things that God uses to build our faith: practical teaching, private devotions, providential relationships and personal ministry.
This Sunday we are going to look at the fifth key component to growing our faith-pivotal circumstances. Events, good and bad, have the potential to grow our faith in God or destroy it. They can bring us closer to God or push us away. Circumstances have the potential to make us better or make us bitter.
I want to invite each of you to come Sunday and hear this message on Pivotal Circumstances. More importantly, I want to encourage you to invest and invite your friends and families to share this message with you. And, here’s why. All of us have or will face events or circumstances that will cause us to make decisions about whether we can or will trust God.
We all know people who have walked away from God because of something that happened in their lives or the lives of people they knew. Instead of drawing close to God for His comfort and support in those tough circumstances, they got mad at God and turned their backs on Him. They spurned His relationship and let their hearts turn to stone.
I believe that if we understand that hard times will come to all of us, if we live long enough, and that God wants us to trust Him through it, we will not only survive them but learn to thrive from them. Our faith gets deeper the more we learn to trust God…especially in the hard times.
So, come and hear what God has to show you. And, bring your friends. Bro. Larry
Loneliness, sickness, addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, feeling helpless or useless, wondering if there is a reason or a purpose to this life . . . We have all felt some or all of these thoughts or emotions at some point in life. How did you handle the situation? Did you talk to a close friend or go to a pastor for wise counsel and prayer? It wasn’t easy, was it? Being transparent is difficult. Most of us would like to be remembered by our strengths instead of our weaknesses.
We want to see new churches being planted where brothers and sisters in Christ share both struggles and joys. In a land where Orthodox domes can be seen throughout every city there are very few people who live vibrant faith-filled lives. Sadly many believe that they are not capable of knowing God on a personal level. When they struggle through difficult times in life the advice they receive is not centered on the truth of God’s word but on traditions, superstitions, and opinion. They live without hope.
This coming summer you have the opportunity to stretch your faith and to help transform the lives of Ukrainians in the process. Kasey, Isaiah, and I look forward to working alongside your team in June. Thank you so much for your faithful prayers as well as your giving through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering! We love you guys!
Ross, Kasey, and Isaiah
Christmas is coming and it is coming fast. Are you ready? Not so much in buying gifts, attending parties and planning for the big Christmas dinner. But, is your heart ready to celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus?
Our current message series has been focused on taking a new look at the traditional carols with new eyes so that we see the meaning in the lyrics. Our intentions are to help you get past the traditions and stuff we often take for granted. One of the things I have tried to focus on this year is seeing past the manger scene. As we look on and we see these porcelain figures in this pristine little environment we see Mary and Joseph, and this precious little baby there, right?
But please understand this, Baby Jesus, as he lies there in that manger, was and is and will always be:
The King of kings and the LORD of lords,
The Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning and the End,
The Author of life, the Prince of Peace,
The Author of our faith, the perfecter of it.
The One who spoke everything into existence.
The bread of life,
The lifter of our head.
And as the song says, He is born the King of angels and we come to adore Him, for He is Christ the Lord.
Take some time this Christmas season and remember to worship the King!
Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, “Why is that there?” Alex Haley answered, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”
When is the last time you spent some time reflecting on your life? Who has helped you become the person you are now? Who gave you a boost when you were struggling? Who has been the consistent cheerleader in your life? Who lead you to Jesus?
Let me try.
I am thankful for my parents who saw to it that I was regularly at church (like every time the doors were open). I am thankful for the ladies in church that showed me the love of Jesus and pointed me to receiving Him as my Savior. I am thankful for dozens of men who have been my friends, even when it was easy. I am thankful for Dusty Reynolds who saw something in me to encourage me to become a pastor and then giving me the opportunity to pursue my calling. And, I am especially grateful for my wife, Carolyn, who has put up with me through thick and thin. She has loved me well beyond the call of duty. I would not be anywhere near the man I am today without her unfailing love.
There, that felt good! I recommend you spend some time in the next few days to stop and reflect on how God has blessed you. Remember the people who have had an impact on your life. And, if you feel a sudden jolt of courage, publically acknowledge them and tell them how much you appreciate them. It will be good for both of you.
There’s a life and death struggle going on in this world for souls. People all around us are crying out for help. They are searching for solutions to their problems. But, most often, they are looking for answers in all the wrong places. Alcohol and drugs cannot help them. More money or education cannot help them. The government cannot help them.
Most of the issues facing people today really come from a core problem. They are trying to satisfy a universal longing in their hearts. This universal longing is for eternity. Every one of us is seeking something that lasts. We are all pulled toward something that is deeper and more significant than how most of us live our lives.
As Christ followers, you and I have already been blessed with having discovered our answer for eternity. While we may not completely understand it or totally value it on most days, we can rest in knowing that we exist because of God and we enjoy an eternal relationship with Him because of Jesus and what He has done for us. We are blessed because someone loved us enough to share the Good News of Jesus with us so that we too could receive His love and forgiveness. And, we have been blessed to be a blessing. You and I have been called to join Jesus in His search to find and recover the lost.
On Sunday, I challenged us here at FBCGC to step up and become a Mission Outpost at our homes. Dozens of our people committed on Sunday to pray by name for their neighbors for the next 6 weeks and writing them a note telling them that they are praying specifically for them. It’s as simple as that. We are going to pray specifically that God will work in the lives of our neighbors and will make a way for us to minister to them. As we pray, we are recognizing that God is doing the heavy work. But, we also recognize that God will connect us to people who He wants us to share with.
So, will you join God where He is working? If you would like to join the cause of becoming a Mission Outpost, let me know and I will get the stuff to you. God is up to something big. Don’t miss it!
On Sunday we looked at the need for every believer to follow the investment strategies taught by Jesus. Jesus says we invest what we have today so that we can have a bigger tomorrow. We learned that while we often focus on money, Jesus teaches us that we are to invest our whole lives into something bigger than us.
One of the areas that we need to focus on at FBCGC is the talent we have here that is being underutilized. It bothers me when I think talent like that could go unused. Is it possible that we have talented members sitting in our congregation, but we have not yet been able to uncover, mobilize, and support their giftedness for ministry? Is it possible you have been given a gift from God designed to further His Kingdom and the ministry of FBCGC?
It is vital that we help each of you discover, strengthen and utilize the gifts God has given you. Because our church will never grow any stronger than your core of lay ministers who carry out the various ministries of the church.
Romans 12:1-8 shows us there are four core components for marshaling the gifts and talents already here in our congregation. These four concepts are:
1: Every Believer is a Minister
2: Every Ministry is Important
3: We Need Each Other
4: Your corporate Ministry is an Expression of
How God Designed You
As God speaks to you about your gifts and talents, let us know. We will pray and strategize how and where to help you invest those God-given gifts to maximize the impact to the Kingdom. There is lots to do. And, we need you!