Pastor's Blog

Envision 3-11-15

Praying through impasse and deadlock   Let’s face it, there are those times when you feel stuck. You try to make progress in a certain direction and you cannot move forward. Your wheels are spinning. It could be an issue at your job or a project at school. Whatever the circumstance is, you are going nowhere. Carla and I felt this way when we wanted to start a family. The kids didn’t come. We tried to adopt and the kids still didn’t come. It left us feeling our lives were stuck on pause Sometimes you have a relationship in your life that is deadlocked. You care for the other person, but you simply cannot see eye to eye. For example, your wife wants to use the savings account for one thing and you believe it must be used for something else. You two cannot overcome this impasse. Maybe the situation relates to the kingdom of God. You want to see spiritual fruit come out of your life or out of your church, but things remain spiritually quiet and inactive. What can you do to see movement? Peter says in 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The wonderful truth of these passages is that when you feel stuck, it is an opportunity for you to draw near to the Lord in prayer and watch Him work. Pausing to pray for circumstances, people, and spiritual fruit is contrary to human nature. When you get stuck, your instinct is to try harder. Usually this gets you nowhere or forces a solution that is not the best. When you pause to pray, you admit to God that the very best option for you begins with Him. This takes humility. God loves you and will lead you to the best reality according to His love and His will. He may untangle your situation in the way you want, or He may change your heart’s desire. Nevertheless, He receives the credit for opening the way. God can get you through any impasse or deadlock. Simply humble yourself, pray, and trust His perfect timing.  


Envision 2-8-15

Envision 2-8-15

 

One of the important first steps for new believers and new members of our church is to discover and join a Sunday morning small group (aka, a Sunday School class). Certainly there are times when Christians must travel the road of faith alone. There are also times when we will engage God as part of the crowd. However, from the beginning of the His church, Christ always intended for Christians to pursue Him with a small band of companions. Jesus even modeled this in that He had 12 disciples who followed Him throughout the course of His ministry. In the early church, the vehicle of the small group continued as believers met “house to house” (Acts 2:46).

There is just something about a group of four to eighteen people. In this setting we experience the Lord differently than we do alone or in a large group. In a small group, we have an expression of family. Over time, the people in the small group build friendships and share significant life experiences. They share in each other’s joys and sorrows. They pray for each other and care for one another in difficult times.

People in the same small groups become partners in discovering the word of God and learning how to live it out in real life. As days turn into months and years, people in small groups come to know, trust, and enjoy one another.

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Envision 2-1-2015

Envision 2-1-15

 

This last week several of our people participated in the State Evangelism Conference. Like every year, it served as a potent reminder of a necessary fruit of a follower of Jesus Christ: evangelism. Bobby Welch, a pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Tuesday, “You cannot choose to neglect evangelism and say that you are living rightly with the Lord” [paraphrased]. Everyone saved by the blood of our Savior bears the call of God to pray for the lost, communicate the gospel, demonstrate the change it has had on his or her life, and invite others to believe it (Matthew 28:19-20). As the Spirit of God leads us to evangelism, we show our love for the Lord and for other human beings as we give them the way of escape from condemnation.

 

Reading this you may be feeling the Holy Spirit convicting your heart. You know that you have neglected sharing the gospel. The wonderful part of being a Christian is that every day we have the opportunity to turn from our sin and experience, again, the Lord’s forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9).


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Envision 1-25-15

1-20-15

Greetings Church Family,

One of the purposes of the church family is to connect with other believers for encouragement and Christian growth. In an increasingly busy world, it becomes ever more challenging to stay in touch. Our desire is to provide opportunities to help you connect with others in the church. Therefore, beginning this week, our church family gains an exciting new tool for fellowship. You now have access to our First Baptist Harrah online community. From this web-based platform, you will be able to:

 

  1. Access church directory information
  2. Manage your child’s check-in information (like allergies)
  3. Quickly view your personalized dashboard which includes calendars, events, and information regarding your groups and ministries (like Sunday School, Ministry Center, committees, MDO, etc.)
  4. Schedule when you are available/unavailable to serve in a ministry
  5. Receive emails and/or texts related to your ministries and Sunday school class

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Envision 1-18-15

Envision 1-18-15

 

Have you ever considered that your God-given mission on earth is to influence others? It’s true! Your life, words, actions, and convictions influence the lives of others. You may not realize the impact you have on another, but influence happens every day during the hundreds of interactions you have. Just think of all the people who have influenced you (for better or worse) and who probably have no idea of their impact on your life. Even if you keep to yourself or think very humbly of yourself, you have affected someone out there in some way.

 

Now for the hard questions: Have you influenced others well? When you look to your past, are others better off having known you or resentful of the influence you’ve had on them? The Apostle Paul states that believers in Christ are to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…” (Philippians 2:15-16). This passage means that, as a Christian, others should look at your life and see that Jesus Christ has control of you. As you demonstrate Christ in your life with your words, actions, and convictions, you influence others to consider Christ in their own lives. You glorify God, when they see Him in you.


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Envision-1-11-15

Loving others is at the heart of loving God. Jesus teaches in Mark 12:30-31 that if we treat others without love, then we compromise whatever expressions of love we give to the Lord. John puts it this way, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). We may worship every week with a passionate heart. We might avoid any and every sin. We might offer large financial gifts to the Lord. However, if we walk in hatred toward anyone or if we are indifferent to the plight of others, we fail to worship the God of the Bible. Even more sobering, we fail to understand the gospel, which has at its heart proactive love, grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Actively loving others is evidence that, in fact, the gospel has done a transforming work in our hearts.


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