REAL HOPE Because Jesus Lives !

 

REAL HOPE.  Everyone needs it.  Everyone longs for it.  Young or old, rich or poor, new Christian or seasoned saint, there is no one who doesn’t find himself yearning for REAL HOPE.  We need hope because of our own sin and because of the sin of others. We need hope because of the effects of sin on this old sin-cursed broken world. We need hope because of sickness, pain, death and evil. We long for REAL HOPE, not just a fantasy of some positive future or pie in the sky by and by,” but REAL HOPE anchored in the solid foundation of God’s eternal Scripture.

 

The good news is that there truly is REAL HOPE  found in the Bible.  Hope abounds for the true child of God who has a REAL relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Here are five reasons for REAL HOPE; each one is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ including his death, burial, and resurrection.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of Jesus’ perfect shed blood, His death and His bodily resurrection. Jesus died and shed his sinless blood so that He could be the substitute for us. Christ took the wrath of God His Father upon Himself so that we could be forgiven. Because of this sacrifice, God promised restoration, cleansing, forgiveness, and mercy.  Of course, Christians are already declared totally righteous for all eternity, but those of us who are believers still need God’s forgiveness throughout this life. Our failures, accidental or purposeful, hinder our walk with God, and we need restoration, just as we do in earthly relationships when failure breaks our fellowship with the Lord.  1 John 1:7-9 reminds us that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” John goes on to declare that if we try to hide or deny our failures, we are liars; but, if we confess our sin to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin, bringing about greater holiness and restoration. We have REAL HOPE for forgiveness.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His power. Ephesians 3:20 declares that we should thank and praise God because He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” God has promised His power to help us live a godly life. Even when we feel totally defeated and discouraged, His power is greater and can do far above what we feel can be accomplished in and through us. In addition, 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God’s power is given to us so that we have everything we need to overcome failure and live a godly life. Yes, we fail, but God’s power never allows us to live consistently in a state of sinful failure. His power saves us from a life of failure! We have REAL HOPE for a life free from being a slave to our sinful desires and failures.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds because we have victory over death and have Heaven as our future home. Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:13-18, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Heaven is not a myth. It is a REAL place, and we will enjoy it together as Christians. What a hope!

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His plan. Romans 8:28-31 is encouraging, because God states that “all things work together for good” (even when they don’t always appear to be good) to cause us to be more like Christ.  Life is like a giant puzzle with infinite pieces, each of which is needed, and all of which come together to accomplish God’s plan. Some of those pieces even include pain, sickness, and failures.  God, although never responsible for our failures, mercifully allows them to strengthen us for the future and to make us more conformed to the image of His Son. The book of Romans also reminds us that when sin increases and failure happens, grace always increases and can overcome our failures (Romans 5:20). Although we face pain, death, evil and our own failures in this life, we have REAL HOPE.  This REAL HOPE in the face of trouble causes us to reach the same conclusion as the divinely inspired Apostle Paul. Writing in Romans 8:31-33, he states, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.” If all that weren’t enough encouragement in the face of failure, we can also rely on this promise of God in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” No, God is not ever going to leave His children helpless or at the mercy of Satan in this evil fallen world.  He is on our side.  REAL HOPE!

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His presence. Hebrews 13:5 gives us yet another hopeful promise for our life: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Often in the difficulties of life or when we sin, we feel that God is angry and frustrated with us, and we may even feel forsaken or deserted by God.  On the contrary, like the father in the story told by Jesus of the prodigal son in Luke 11:15-32, God eagerly awaits to forgive and restore us. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

 

The person of Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection provide REAL HOPE for this life and our future.  Are you a REAL CHRISTIAN with REAL HOPE?  If we can be of help to you in your relationship with God, we invite you to contact us.  If you are looking for a REAL HOPE, consider joining us for a service soon. 

In our services, we pray you will come to know the hope found through Jesus Christ and His words to us in the Bible.

 
 
 
 
 


Christian Worldview Vs. Horrific Tragedy

 

Why a Christian Worldview Works Even in the Face of Unspeakable Evil
 
On Sunday November 5, at approximately 11:30 am a man walked in to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX and killed or wounded at least 46 people. Many questions arise in the aftermath of tragedy.  In the early hours and days, the questions are often answerable. How many died? Who was the killer? What did the authorities do in response? What was the killer’s motive? However, these questions quickly give way to the deeper questions that seem to be unanswerable. We all wrestle with questions like these about tragedies.

  • If God is good, why did he allow such evil, especially to people who identify as his children?
  • If God is in control of all things, why didn’t he stop this tragedy before it happened?
  • Why didn’t God allow the killer to be caught instead of just killing himself?

Although many of these types of questions are and will remain unanswered in detail, there are answers in the bigger sense. Though we may not understand the specifics of why this tragedy, why these particular people, or why this small church, we can understand from the Bible who God is, why evil exists and how God has victory over it.  Those answers come from what we call a Christian worldview.
We all have some sort of worldview if we realize it or not, and it matters!
A worldview is best described as the glasses through which we see and interpret all that is happening around us in the world. It attempts to tell an overarching story, to explain the universe in both grand and detailed ways. The story attempts to bring clarity and understanding to every part of existence.
A worldview:

  • Tells of origins (Where did the universe come from?)
  • Envisions a future (What is the future of the universe and our lives?)
  • Constructs ideals (What does a perfect world look like for all people?)
  • Provides rules of conduct (What is right and wrong?)
  • Provides a source of authority (Who is in charge?)
  • Gives a sense of life purpose (Why do we exist?)

Without a worldview of some kind, life has no meaning. There is no understanding of what is happening around us. Without meaning, living has no real purpose. Without purpose, there is no hope and reason to live.
We all seek to understand the world around us, especially in the midst of confusion, pain and tragic situations. From scientific questions to questions of good and evil, and why there is suffering we wonder why.  We seek guidance for decisions and meaning to life’s trials. We seek true beauty in art and wonder at the hate we see between human beings. These answers and more can be found through the glasses of our worldview.
God has provided an undistorted worldview through his word, the Bible, by communicating basic truths that are fundamental to every aspect of our life. This worldview brings clarity, purpose, and guidance for all of life.
Although there are many many worldviews that people follow, there are only two basic worldviews, a true one and a false one. The true one has only one definition. The false one takes on many forms. Let’s look at these two worldviews.
Firstly, let’s look at a non-biblical and false worldview summary.  Remember, there are many versions of this, but they all include the same fundamental points.

  • The universe came into existence by random chance or at best by means of an intelligent being or beings that we cannot know, understand or communicate with. There is no ultimate authority other than the most dominate being(s), which currently is humanity.
  • Currently in this grand ever evolving process, man is the center of all things. man has no ultimate purpose except in some organic evolutionary way. He is on his own. The strong survive, the weak are destroyed, and the random, chaotic evolution of all things continues.
  • Man should not be held to an absolute moral code, there is not one. Man should live in a way that is best for himself to enjoy life and survive as long as possible. After death, man will not be held accountable for his actions. Death is simply the end of existence. There is no future after death.
Secondly, let’s look at a Christian worldview. You can watch a very short video summary of a Christian worldview clicking below and then we’ll give you some reasons why this view works and makes sense even in the face of tragedy to the very people who hold this worldview. 
 

So how does this make sense in the face of tragedy even to those who believe this worldview? How does it bring hope to despair and meaning even to hardship?

1. In a Christian worldview, God is creator and therefore he is the authority over all his creation. He sets the rules for his creation. He sets both natural law i.e. gravity which cannot be broken, and he sets moral laws which can and have been broken. The reason we even know right and wrong and that murder is evil is because God created life, gave it value and gave us moral law. Non-Christian worldviews cannot adequately account for these facts.
The reason we know what happened in Texas was a tragedy is because precious life was taken and the Evolutionary answers of survival of the fittest doesn’t add up! In the depths of our soul, in our emotions and conscience, we know it was horrific evil because we know what good and evil are thanks to God
.
2. In a Christian worldview, God has not left his creation to suffer under evil indefinitely. At great cost to himself, he sent his only son, Jesus, who is God as well, to suffer and die in order to conquer evil and provide salvation from evil. Jesus entered into our suffering. He himself was tragically murdered. However, His death and resurrection from the grave prevents evil from ever conquering good completely.  In a Christian worldview, God always overrules evil with good even though for the moment, as with Jesus’ death, evil may seem to win.

3. In a Christian worldview, there is hope because of salvation in Jesus Christ. He conquered death, rose again from the grave and now provides eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.  Not only is evil like that in Texas overcome, but our own sinful heart can be forgiven and our relationship with God can be restored. We personally can have victory over evil and sin in our own life. We do not have to be captive to our own sinful condition.

4. In a Christian worldview, we have the hope of eternal life. For those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation which is free to us but came at great cost to him, it is not death to die. Yes, that is right, it is not death to die.  When God speaks of death in the Bible, he speaks of eternal death which is separation from God in Hell for those who reject Jesus’ gift and do not believe in him. For those who do accept his gift of salvation such as those at the First Baptist Church, death is not eternal. It is a passage way to eternal life. The Bible says that for those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ to be absent from this earthly body is to be instantly present with the Lord in Heaven.

5. In a Christian worldview, evil such as we saw in this situation is punished. Perhaps the killer supposed in his worldview that his ticket to freedom from the carnage he had caused by his evil actions was to kill himself thus ending life and entering a state of non-existence. No jail, no remorse, no guilt, no dread, he felt as many who commit such atrocities do, that killing themselves was the end. However, in a Christian worldview, this man went to Hell. He will stand before God in  the final judgement for his sin as we all will someday and then he will be condemned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. There is no hope for him, no second chance. His fate is sealed. His worldview was horribly wrong in so many ways and at so many levels. Worldviews do have consequences.

What is your worldview? What are it’s consequences for your future? How do you process events such as these terrible tragedies? Do you believe that the universe happened from a “Big Bang?” Do you believe in the evolutionary process, the survival of the fittest, that life is random, futile, and meaningful only for the strong who survive? Do you believe that good and evil are simply cultural norms?  Do you believe there are no moral absolutes based on a moral absolute being who is designer, creator and ultimate authority, GOD? May we ask you to consider the Christian worldview. Use the resources below to learn more and consider God.

For those who have a Christian worldview, do not be discouraged even in the face of hard questions. God is in control. He does overcome evil with good. We are part of his plan in doing so. Share God’s good news contained in the Christian worldview with others. Share God’s love by reaching out to others and loving them. Pray for God’s help and strength for those touched by this and other effects of man’s sin, and look up for the Lord can come at any time.

Do you have questions? Would you like to talk about your spiritual life and relationship with God?  Contact us by clicking here or visit us for a service soon.

Click here for other helpful articles that can help answer questions about God, the universe, his relationship to you and more. 

Check out these other helpful articles below on our website for more information about God.  ​

 
 


6 Questions to Prayerfully Consider Before You Leave Your Church

 
Stop, Don’t Leave Just Yet…

6 Questions to Prayerfully Consider Before You Leave Your Church.

There are a lot of good reasons for you to leave your current church. There are also a lot bad reasons for you to leave your current church. The fact is that if your church life isn’t  messy and complicated from time to time then you aren’t doing it right. However, another fact is that if your church life isn’t refreshing and wonderful then you aren’t doing it right. This is how relationships work and your relationship with your church is no different. Like any relationship there will be seasons of pure joy, seasons of pure frustration, and seasons where everything seems pretty balanced.

Unfortunately, it’s the seasons of pure frustration that tend to drive people away from their churches, just like, unfortunately, people are often driven away from their spouses. But part of being in community together includes a commitment to one another through thick and thin, especially through the most frustrating times. To give up and leave your church when it gets difficult or messy is the easy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

It can be difficult to discern whether or not God is actually asking you to leave your church. Maybe you have wrestled with this before or are currently wrestling with it now. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you leave your church that I hope will help you sort through the situation and be able to discern what God is really asking of you.

 

 

1. Will I be able to walk with God closer and know Him better if I leave?

This should be one of, if not the primary question in your mind as you are thinking about leaving your church. Nothing in this life matters more than your relationship with God. Nothing. Not even your relationship with your church. If you can say with confidence that you will be able to grow deeper in your relationship with God at another place, then it is possible God is asking you to leave. However, this should not be a license to leave just because you are struggling to grow at the current time. Most of the time the inability to grow spiritually lies within us, not within our church. If you are a true Christian but aren’t growing closer to God, then it is most likely your fault. If anything, the lack of growth in your life should drive you deeper into the Christian community that you already have in your home church, rather than away from it to seek it somewhere else. Before you abandon your church, think deeply about the answer to this question.
 

2. Would Jesus be pleased with my reasons for leaving?

“Well, I don’t get along with someone there Jesus, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Matthew 5:23-26.

“Well, I’ve been hurt by someone there so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Matthew 6:15.

“Well, it’s just too heavy of a load to deal with all the struggles there, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Galatians 6:2.

“Well, I’m just really not getting what I need from that church, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Philippians 2:3-4.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Most of the reasons that we hear from people leaving their church are not reasons that Jesus that would be happy about. When you enter into relationship with someone, or with a church, you have to take the good and the bad. No person is perfect and no church is perfect. If you are thinking about leaving your church because it isn’t perfect, search the Scriptures to see how Jesus would respond to finding out your reasons for leaving.
 

3. Have I done everything in my power to make things better?

Whether you are frustrated with the pastor, a specific person, a specific group of people, or something specific about the church as a whole – it would be childish and immature for you to leave if you have not done everything in your power to make it better. It does no good to whine about a problem or give up and leave if you have not offered a solution. More often than not, God puts frustration in our lives so that we can become sanctified and help sanctify those around us. Don’t allow your frustration to drive you to abandonment, let your frustration drive you to become more like Christ and help those you are frustrated with become more like Christ in the process.
 

4. Have I talked to church leadership about my frustrations?

Your pastors and other church leaders are probably frustrated by many of the same things you are. In fact, they are probably looking for people who feel the same way to help lead the charge to improve the situation. Even if your frustration is with the church leadership, you need to have the courage to express your frustrations to them and engage in a dialogue. By doing so, even if you decide to leave in the end, the church will be better off. Please don’t just leave your church without talking to your church leaders or at least explaining why.
 

5. Am I leaving to leave, or leaving because God has called me elsewhere?

God rarely, if ever, calls people away from something unless he is calling them to something else specific. When God called Abram away from his home and the only life he had ever known, He wasn’t just calling him away from Haran, He was calling him to Canaan (Genesis 12). When God called Paul away from his plans to preach in Asia, He also called him to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16). Don’t leave your church just to get out. If God is calling you to leave, He is most likely calling you specifically to another community of believers. Make sure you aren’t leaving just so be somewhere else.
 

6. Will I be moving to another church, or to the couch?

Whatever your reasons for wanting to leave your church, one thing is certain – you are not better off on the couch at home. If you are going to leave your church, make sure you are getting involved in another gospel centered, Bible-believing congregation. Too many people leave their church and never join another one. Similar to question 5, make sure that you have a plan to get involved in another church before you leave your current church.

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Please don’t leave your church without asking yourself these questions, or questions like these. There is too much church shuffling going on in our churches these days and it is not healthy for the people or for the churches.
 
Noah Adams – Noah is an associate pastor in Elgin, Il. and is excited about communicating and applying Biblical truth through the tools of social media and the world wide web. Noah works with Purpose Launch Ministries to help accomplish this task. 

 



10 Ways to Enjoy God When Life is Busy

 

 
Many of us have good intentions when it comes to spending time with God. However there is often a long list of other things that can push this priority to the bottom of the pile. Family, work, school, sports, and other commitments can fill our days leaving little margin for the spiritual activities that really feed our souls. By not making time for God, we often leave ourselves empty, vulnerable to temptation, and without direction.

D.L. Moody, the nineteenth century founder of Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, recognized his need for God and once said, “the only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep the faucet running.” So how do we “keep the faucet running” in the middle of a hectic schedule?

Here are some practical suggestions:

 

Use travel time. The AAA Foundation recently conducted an extensive survey to better understand the characteristics of today’s American drivers. In this study they reported that the average driver spends over 290 hours driving every year. That is the equivalent of seven 40-hour work weeks! All of this time spent on the road can be an excellent opportunity for us to pray — with your eyes OPEN, of course! Storing prayer cards in the sun visor or console can provide some quick prompts to help you get started.

 

Multitask. If you can cook dinner while watching a Netflix show or helping one of your children review for a spelling test, then you can multitask. This means you should also be able to listen to worship music while getting ready in the morning or to pray while doing other projects which don’t require your full mental attention. You can look for natural connections to help you remember — like asking God to clean your heart while you are cleaning the kitchen or praying for a child to grow in God’s grace while you are doing an errand related to that child.

 

Rise and Shine. Although multitasking is great, ideally it is a good idea to prioritize some focused time with God each day. One way to accomplish this is by waking up a little earlier each morning to read the Bible and pray. The house is usually quiet then, and having the automatic brew cycle set the night before will allow you to wake up to the smell and the warmth of coffee. For most people, the key to getting up earlier is simple — going to bed earlier. It starts there — the night before. Nothing else compares to prioritizing and enjoying these regular blocks of focused time with Him!

 

Get some exercise. Look for ways to strengthen your heart while strengthening your body by filling your mind with truth while exercising. One way to do this is by listening to Christian podcasts or audiobooks while exercising. This is also a quiet time to talk with God in prayer.

 

Memorize and Meditate. Even in the busiest times, it is possible to use wait times to work on memorizing Scripture. A Scripture memory card can easily be stuffed in one’s pocket or bag so that it is available during down times throughout the day. This might be while waiting for a client, sitting in a doctor’s office, or passing time in the after school pick-up line. Memorization is more than simply recalling words; it is a great way to meditate on God’s Word! There are some great apps out there to help with Scripture memory.

 

In the Moment Prayers. God doesn’t care where you are or how noisy it is when you call out to Him. You can ask Him for wisdom and patience while in your favorite overstuffed chair in the early moments of the morning, while waiting in traffic, or while pushing a two-seater truck-cart down aisle 12 at Target. He is always present – always desiring to help and guide you.

 

Prioritize Church. Getting to church can be a challenge if it is not already built in to your schedule, but being with other believers and hearing the teaching of God’s Word is an important part of every believer’s life. Paul refers to the church as a “body” in which we all play an important role (1 Corinthians 12:27). By making this time a priority, you contribute your part to the body and to bringing glory to God.

 

Spend Quality Time with Other Believers. The Bible includes many admonitions directed at the things believers are to be doing for “one another.” These include encouraging, praying for, building up, serving, and more. We cannot be doing these well unless we are spending quality time investing in friendships with other Christians. This does not mean that Christians only spend time in deep, serious talk. Instead they share life and laughter together often making it easier and more natural to talk about the things that deeply matter.

 

Serve. Philippians 2 explains that Jesus Himself came to this world as a servant, and in the same way, every believer is instructed to use the gifts God has given to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Serving can be little things like helping people throughout your day or it can be done in a more planned way by regularly serving in a certain ministry through your church. By humbly giving of yourself to bless others, you offer a gift of worship to the Lord (Ephesians 6:7).

 

Ending the Day. As the day comes to a close, it is good to take a few moments to reflect back over your day. This is a great time to confess any sin which God brings to your mind and thank Him for the many blessings He brought throughout the day. When areas of concern come to mind, give them to the Lord asking for His wisdom and strength.

 

If you are not already in a regular habit of spending time with God, choose one or two these suggestions and get started this week. You were made with a desire to relate to God built deep into your DNA, and by making time for this important priority, you will find great fulfillment in the love He desires to pour into your life.

 

We hope that in your busy schedule, you’ll take a “day of rest” as God did. A great thing to do is make that day Sunday and make worship part of that time. We hope you’ll take some time to join us for a service. We would love to have you.

 



Forgiveness – The Gift You May Still Need to Give

Gift of Forgiveness The bows and paper have been tossed by now. The clothes that didn’t fit have been returned. Perhaps you are satisfied with all the gifts you gave and received. We hope so.  We all love the satisfaction and joy of knowing that the recipient likes what we gave them. But maybe some of us forgot a very important gift. This gift would benefit the recipient in immeasurable ways, while also liberating the giver from increasing bondage, providing vivid testimony to the gospel, and showcasing Christ-like love to the unsaved world. What gift could do all this? It’s the gift of forgiveness.

In his book Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns helps us understand that forgiveness is not only right (in that it glorifies God by obeying His will), but it is also best. God, as the standard of holiness and goodness, will only require of His people those things which are best for them. Our joy is completely full only when we live in submission to God’s design for our lives. And part of God’s good design for us is forgiveness to those who’ve sinned against us. Forgiveness is not a bitter pill to swallow; it is the doorway to maximum joy and peace.
 
Our ability to forgive others is a result of God’s forgiveness of us, and our desire to forgive others is based entirely on His forgiveness of us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Brauns highlights three ways in which our forgiveness must mirror God’s forgiveness of all those who’ve been redeemed:
 
1. Forgiveness is gracious (Eph. 2:8,9; 2:4; I John 4:10).God’s forgiveness toward us is a gift motivated by His love for us (Eph. 2:4). But though this gift is graciously offered to all, this gift wasn’t free: God paid for it with the blood of His Son’s death (I John 4:10). In the same way, our forgiveness of others must be freely offered even though it is costly. There is nothing that we have done or ever could do to receive God’s forgiveness; He graciously offers it because He is gracious. Our offer of forgiveness toward others must not be dependent upon their efforts, their remorse, or anything else we want them to do, feel, or say. And it will be costly. We will need to die to ourselves, our desire for revenge, and our pride.

2. Forgiveness is conditional.God’s forgiveness is graciously offered to all, but it’s only given to those who repent and believe (Acts 20:21). God’s forgiveness is dependent; it is conditional. Like any present, God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ must be accepted, or “opened.” As we graciously offer forgiveness to those who have legitimately wronged us, we pray and plead that they will accept it by humble repentance, just as God pleads with all to accept His forgiveness by repentance. Forgiveness is conditional in that both parties involved must be committed to the new life together. Forgiveness is not possible where humility is not present.

3. Forgiveness is a commitment. When God’s gracious offer of forgiveness (that is motivated by His love and costs the death of His Son) is accepted through repentance and faith, God justifies that person. He commits that He will no longer hold that person’s sin against them. There is a legal transaction that frees that person from the condemnation and punishment that was deserved. When we forgive another individual, we make a similar commitment. We enter into an agreement that, though wrong was done, we will no longer hold that sin against that person. Our forgiveness has freed them from the debt that they had accrued.

And this commitment is not temporary or insignificant. True forgiveness means that we are committing to never bring up the offense again – not to that person, not to another person, not to God, and not to ourselves. This is the commitment that God makes to us in Christ. He commits to remove our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). What tremendous hope is found in this truth! “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:3,4)

Of course, forgiveness does not mean that all consequences of wrongdoing are immediately eliminated. Because sin affects others, consequences of sin must sometimes be carried out. And it is in this very process where forgiveness can be most sweetly displayed: Those who are truly repentant and have been forgiven are most ready to accept the consequences of their sin.

Forgiveness frees us from the captivity of revenge
. This world tells us that revenge is our right, and that we ought to get even with those who’ve wronged us. But this is in direct contrast to God’s Word. See, in God’s economy, those who forgive others are carrying out the very essence of the gospel. Those who have been forgiven are to be the ones who forgive, and they are to forgive in the very same way they’ve been forgiven. As a result, joy and peace will flood into our lives.

So, what is forgiveness? As author Chris Brauns has said, it is “a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” If you forgot to give this important gift, consider giving that gift to some family members, coworkers, neighbors, and friends right away this year. You just might be the greatest benefactor of the gift you give another.
 
If we can be of help to you as you struggle with your hurt, please do not hesitate to get in touch. 


How to Help Your Kids Defeat Summer Boredom

Help Your Kids Beat Summer Boredom5 Bible Based Ideas (2)
 
Every parent knows that with the much anticipated breaks from school also come the much dreaded words we all hear from the kids. 
“I’m bored. There is nothing to do around here.” 
As most parents have experienced, if boredom is not dealt with strategically and successfully, it can quickly turn into a problem. Sibling arguments, laziness, watching TV for hours and hours and so on are issues that arrive and that are issues no parent enjoys facing.
Here are Five suggestions to consider as you navigate the break this year.
 
  1. Implement a strategy where your child can earn points. Points turn into cash, material items, trips and other things that individually motivate your child. It works for children and I’ve even seen teens up to 18 get excited about it if the incentives are right. It works something like this. There are two lists of jobs. One list is a daily/weekly list of regular routine chores that need to be done around the house.  Each week chores are successfully completed earns them 300 points. You can give partial points for less than 100% completion. A second list has items that can be done for extra points. This list is one that you build off your own “to-do” list from around the house, around the widow’s house next door, grandma’s house etc. It can include all kinds of items from cleaning out the junk drawer to trimming the hedges to weeding the garden. You decide a fair number of points for each job. Your child can choose which he’d like to do and when he’d like to do them. If you have jobs that arise or that need to be done at a certain time, negotiate points for the job with him like you would a contractor. In all cases, make the points worth it for him. As the weekly and extra points add up, he can trade them in at various levels for smaller rewards or save them for something bigger. Give some extra incentive for when he reaches certain levels. At 2500, he gets to have a friend over. At 4000, bowling with some buddies. These extra incentives don’t have to subtract from the totals. It is a great way to keep him busy and also reward his hard work. (Hint- Points can also be taken away for negative behavior, but use this option sparingly.) 
  2. Consider vacation Bible school at local churches.At our Bible school (see below) there are outdoor activities, crafts, fun with friends and the blessing of learning about the Bible.  Your kids and teens will have a blast at First Baptist this summer. You can check with other local churches to learn about other Bible school opportunities during the summer. Make sure though that what is being taught is truly from the Bible. Check websites for the doctrinal statements of the church and what they will be learning that week during the Bible school time. You can read our doctrine statement here and more about our summer youth programs here. 
  3. Communicate. Make sure you are taking advantage of the extra time with your child. Take them to lunch, take a weekend trip together or binge watch some wholesome Netflix shows from your childhood era. Conversation Starters for Good Communication with Your Teens and Children
  4. Stay involved in a church. Most churches provide some great family activities in the summer. We do here at First Baptist. Check it out here.  Get involved with a good Bible-believing church that will not only provide great worship opportunities for your family, but a great teen program for your teens. Talk to the youth pastor or children’s ministry director if you’re concerned about your child.
  5. Give them time to relax and refresh. School can be hard and students need some time off. Don’t be overly concerned with some sleeping in, video gaming and tv watching. Kids are only young once and most will work the rest of their lives. While a good work ethic is needed, don’t forget to let them be a kid while they can.

 

Breaks from school don’t have to be as stressful as it may seem. Plan ahead, talk it over with your child and create breaks from school that end up as pleasant memories for everyone involved.
 
 
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Wrapping the Awkward Gift of Advice

awkward gift of adviceConfrontation and giving advice. When we know our friends may be struggling with a problem, sin, or even an addiction, it’s never easy to offer helpful correction or give input.  In fact, it is like trying to gift wrap a huge, awkwardly-shaped gift that our friend may not even appreciate at the time. You know they will benefit from it, but how do you make it presentable so they will gladly accept it? Even with examples laid out before us in Scripture, it is still difficult at times to know exactly what to do and say to get our friends or family to listen and really hear truth.

In the end, we know we can’t force a gift on anyone. No matter how valuable the gift of advice or confrontation, no matter how perfectly wrapped or perfectly timed, it still has to be received. We know that, according to Scripture, wise people accept this gift of advice and confrontation. We can see that even some marginally wise folks will accept it, although more care must be taken in the giving of it. We also know that the Bible says that a mark of a foolish person is that he will not accept advice (Proverbs 23:9).

A few preliminary thoughts first.

Silence means approval (Proverbs 17:15-17).  Remember that you, as a friend or family member, must attempt to give this gift.  You can’t stay silent and just hope things get better. You can’t be the buddy or friend and not be a godly friend. 

Remember that advice and confrontation bring results (Proverbs 28:23).  It may not be the immediate results you want; but if they accept, you have “gained a brother” (Matthew 18:15) and strengthened the relationship.  If the result is rejection, you can begin to follow the advice God gives on dealing with those who are foolish.     

So how do we wrap this gift of advice, wisdom, and / or confrontation?

There are some great “wrapping” instructions in the story of the prophet Nathan confronting David after his sin with Bathsheba.  This story can be found in 1 Samuel 12:1-15.

1. Wrap your advice in a friendship of encouragement. If you are not careful about picking the battle you choose with your friends who are struggling, you’ll find yourself nagging instead of advising. What’s the difference? Nagging occurs when you find yourself constantly irritated with your friend and badgering them almost every time you’re with them. Advising happens when you pick your battles, letting some (maybe many) issues go while focusing on the biggest issues or the ones the Holy Spirit prompts you about first. Spend your time and energy trying to find the things you can praise in your friend’s life on a regular basis. He’ll be more open to the purposeful, planned confrontation if it is wrapped in a day-to-day flow of encouragement. 

2. Wrap your advice in brotherly love and not harsh judgment. In other words, wrap it in humility, mercy, and grace, remembering your own journey, struggles, and failures along the way. Remember God’s mercy to you. Soft words turn away anger. Meditate on Proverbs 15:1. Learn to ask questions and not make accusations. Study 1 Corinthians 13 before confronting. Love hopes, love endures, is patient, kind, thinks the best whenever possible, and so on. If you are looking forward to pointing the finger and confronting, or if you are angry and frustrated, then wait. 

3. Wrap your advice in facts. Nathan knew the facts when he confronted David. Don’t rely on hearsay,  possibly false assumptions, or speculations. Trust your friend enough to believe the best and think no evil until the facts are evident. This doesn’t mean that you believe lies and don’t investigate, but make sure he knows you’ve given him the benefit of the doubt. Again, ask questions of your friend first before you simply make accusations. Even if you know the facts, give him the option to share them with you first. Remember, Proverbs says that there are often two sides to a story, and a wise person gets all the facts. 

4. Give your gift with a wise sense of timing. The occasion must be God’s prompting, not your own angry outburst. Wait and pray for the right time. Here are a few thoughts: Talk privately; this type of gift is not best received in front of other family or friends. Honor his agenda if possible; if you are interrupting a ball game on TV or planned time with other friends, your gift of advice or confrontation takes a hit. Consider scheduling a time with them: “Hey, I have some things to talk with you about. When is a good time for you later today?” Along with this goes bathing the whole situation in prayer. Part of timing is giving the Holy Spirit time to work in your friend’s heart ahead of time, as well as yours (Proverbs18:13).

5. Wrap your gift with a healthy dose of Biblical Truth and Love. 

I encourage you to use Scripture itself in your advising and confronting. Stay away from your opinions and feelings, and take them back to Bible principles that they have violated. Prepare ahead of time to do this well. As an example, if a friend has been publicly rude to his wife, don’t say: 

 

“I’m tired of the way you’ve been treating your wife! I just about popped you the other day when you yelled at her at the restaurant. That better never happen again when I’m around. God will deal with people like you. I promise you!”

Instead, try something like:

“I’m concerned for you because the Bible says you should honor your wife; it gives promises for God’s grace in doing so. The Bible says in Ephesians that guys should love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.  How do you think you’ve been doing in that area lately? I know it is an area that I’ve had to be careful in myself.”

Biblically, the key to solving strife (relational conflict) is humility and truth. This is well stated in Ephesians 4:15 as truth wrapped in love. Wrapping truth in love provokes thoughts of our heart motivations, because when we act in humility and love, we take attacking and offending out of the picture. We can then join with them in the discussion of truth. Biblical truth becomes the light in the situation and does the work of revealing the heart. With this approach, as a friend, you let the power of God’s Word, “sharper than any two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) do its work. You are then more freed up to love and help them as they learn how to implement truth in their actions.

6. Wrap advice and confrontation with the wide red ribbon of forgiveness. Be ready to forgive before you confront if the offense was against you. After the confrontation and advising, forgive. Don’t keep bringing up the problem. Move on. If the offense was against someone else or against God alone, assure a repentant friend of God’s love and forgiveness as well. Make sure that during the confrontation, you don’t bring up past forgiven sins unless they are very pertinent to the current situation. If the advice is rejected, you as a friend can still keep a spirit of sweetness and readiness to forgive when your friend is brought to a place of repentance by God’s work in his life. This helps guard your own heart from getting vengeful and bitter and your conversations from being harsh and sarcastic. 

7. Wrap the gift of confrontation or advice as well as the presentation of the gift in lots of love. Samuel affirmed love (II Samuel 12:25). Remember we referred to 1 Corinthians 13 earlier? Study this passage over and over when dealing with struggling friends or family. Love goes deeper than feelings and beyond feelings. You may not feel like loving him in any sort of way right now, but you can still act in love towards him according to the principles in 1 Corinthians 13. Assure your friend that you love him no matter what he does. You may not approve, you may have to even separate from him for a while, but let him never doubt your or God’s love for him. 

We hope that these helpful truths will benefit you. If we can be of help to you now or in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 
 
Click below to read other articles and information about our church.
 
 
Change the Emoticon
 
 
How to Biblically Deal with Depression
Capture


5 Power Phrases to Boost Your Relationships

5 Simple Short Phrases to Boost the Love in Any Relationship (1)Need a boost to your relationships today?  Here are 5 phrases that are sure to make a difference in any relationship you have even if it has been struggling lately. Simple yet amazingly effective.  Try one out today!

1. “I love you.”  If you love someone, let them know it.  Tell them and show them often.  You may think they know it, and they might, but it is always nice to say it.  I Corinthians 13 reminds us that we can be smart, sacrificial and sound wonderful in our speech, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing. Tell your wife, your son or daughter, call your mom and dad.  Even in the struggles, an “I love you” sure can’t hurt. 

2. “I was wrong, forgive me.” One of my professors in college encouraged us to substitute this phrase for “I’m sorry.”  In saying, “I was wrong” there is no doubt in the offended and hurt person’s mind that you know you hurt them and desire their forgiveness and restoration of the relationship. We cannot be rightly related to God if we have broken and torn relationships with others. Perhaps you need to use this phrase with someone today. Don’t wait for them even if they were wrong too. 

3. “Thank you.”  In Luke 17 we read about those with leprosy who Jesus healed.  He literally changed the rest of their lives. Things were different because of His intervention.  Only one returned to say thank you.  There certainly have been people who have made a difference in your life.  People whose intervention changed things for the better. Do they know you are thankful?  What about old friends, parents, your children, their teachers, a coach or former pastor.  Make sure they know you are thankful.  “Thank you” is never said too late or too much.  

4. “I will .”  We must say “I will” to God as he speaks to us about things he wants us to do or change, but we also need to say it to others.  Jesus showed us in John 13 his willingness to wash his disciple’s feet. He then commanded us to do the same.  Look for needs you can meet, and then when you see it, say, “I will.” Try it with your husband or wife, your neighbor, your pastor, your children or your mom and dad.  You’ll be amazed at how serving others builds the relationship and encourages your own heart at the same time.

5. “I can

.” Have you hit some brick wall in your Christian life?  Do you feel defeated because of a sinful habit, or lack of prayer. Perhaps there is some difficult trial you and your teen or you and a spouse or friend are going through.  In any instance, it is easy to say, “I can’t make it.”  Paul reminds us that we CAN do all things THROUGH CHRIST who will strengthen us. A great lesson we must learn is that in myself I can’t, but in Him, I can.  Try saying “I can” to yourself. Say it to others who you may be struggling with.  Acknowledging that you can build your relationship by saying something like this can make a huge difference.  “I can make this work with God’s help.”  “I can react in forgiveness with God’s help.” “I can be patient and work through this by God’s grace.”

 

If we can be of help or encouragement to you in building your relationship with God, biblically repairing your relationship with others or  just listening to your heartache, please get in touch.
 
 

 

 

 



5 Ways the Church is Like a Little League Team

Little League Team
Ah, summer! Sunshine, picnics, and baseball! 

Yes, there are the major leagues . . . I don’t think I’ll ever be there, except as a spectator ‘way up in the nosebleed section. And there is the little league, where you go to watch your kids or your friend’s kids play. We all have a soft spot in our heart’s for the little league team. So many of life’s fundamental lessons can be taught and learned on the little league field.

There are many similarities between a little league team and the church. If you’re wondering about what church is like (or what our church is like at least) here are some good analogies. We hope you’ll come visit to learn more.

Read more…



Pride’s Disguises- 7 Ways Pride Can Hide In Your Life

pride-fbc
 
Pride is most often characterized by loud, arrogant, boastful, in-your-face annoyances. However, pride can also wear many disguises and be present in our lives in ways we may easily miss. Pride and its aftermath bother all of us.  Even more than bothering us, it offends God and is sin against Him. It is included in the list of heinous sins in scripture.
 
In his popular article on pride, Evangelist Harold Vaughn states the following:
Pride was the first sin to destroy the calm of eternity. It was pride that cast Lucifer from heaven and it was pride that cost our first parents their place in Paradise. Pride is the first sin to enter a man’s heart and the last to leave. No sin is more offensive to God than the sin of pride. Pride has been referred to as the “complete anti-God state of mind.” It militates against God’s authority, God’s law, and God’s rule. This is why the Bible equates rebellion with witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). Pride assaults God’s throne and asserts its independence in an attempt to dislodge God as the Sovereign of the universe