Most folks will tell you they came to church, heard the gospel, and were saved because someone – usually a friend or family member – cared enough to invite them. The local church, a body of baptized believers, lives with the continual opportunity, blessing, and command to, “go ye!” So, while we need no other incentive to obey this command, the truth remains that our unsaved friends and family may respond to a special invitation.
On Sunday, November 20, we have an opportunity to bring them in! As our hearts turn toward those who mean the most to us during the upcoming holiday season, let’s put forth a special effort to invite them to receive the greatest gift ever given; eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We’re calling November 20, “Friend and Family Day,” and we’re praying for God to allow us to share the love of Christ and the good news that Jesus saves with a great number of guests in our services that day! We will follow our regular service schedule: 10:00 A.M. – Sunday School, 11:00 A.M. Worship/Preaching Service, and 6:00 Evening Service.
Hosea wrote in chapter 4 and verse 6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” and II Timothy 3:16 records, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” What a treasure we have in our Bible! Sadly, too few professing believers know very much about it.
At Progress Baptist Church, God has given me the privilege of pastoring a group of folks who love God’s Word, enjoy learning more about it, and are seriously interested in incorporating its truth into their lives and families. I am very thankful! Recently, we completed a series in Romans 12 on the spiritual gifts. God has now directed me to begin a Bible survey that will take us from Genesis to Revelation. In each message, my heart’s desire is to “feed the flock of God.” In addition to providing knowledge about each book, its author, its original recipients, and an overview of the content, my overriding desire will be for us to glean and profit from each book. Far more than a book of Jewish history (OT) and Church history (NT), these things were written for our admonition!
In the early 20s, our country built Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, the first road in the U.S. Highway System to cross the country. God has given us a treasure in the sixty-six books of Scripture, and we are looking forward to this journey from beginning to end!
In October, Lord willing, Progress Baptist Church will enjoy four nights of special services with Bro. Johnny Jones doing the preaching. More than just a series of meetings, it is our prayer that God will move us deeper and higher in our walk with Him. This past Sunday night, the message God gave me for our people was from Ezra regarding the importance of the house of God. In the typical modern-day “church”, the sanctuary has been reduced to little more than a gymnasium or night-club. In the detention center ministry God has brought into my life, more than one inmate has described the atmosphere in area “churches” as reminding them of the clubs they were involved in prior to their incarceration. As God’s children, I believe our heart and attitude toward God’s house is a very clear reflection of our heart for God. I believe that is why the first message God placed on my heart in preparation for our revival services dealt with this very important topic.
Over the next few weeks, it is my desire to read, study, and pray for direction from the Lord in preparing our hearts for what He has in store for us. What a tragedy it would be for God’s man to come with a message and for us to be unprepared to receive it. In my reading, I recently came across an article that I will give excerpts from below. The title is, “Thoughts on Church Renewal” by Jay Wegter and Massimo Lorenzini, and it can be found in its complete form at: frontlinemin.org.
The Need for a Grace Awakening
Without a grace awakening, they (church members) will be unable to give back to God, their pastor, or one another. They are operating upon reflected glory, similar to those who gazed at Moses’ glowing face after he descended the holy mountain with the law of God (Ex 34:29-35). But they themselves are not in the habit of regularly beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel. They are not daily drawing their spiritual life directly from Christ in personal communion with Him.
In a grace awakening the congregation will begin to fix their sight on Christ and what He has done for them in redeeming them by grace. As they grow in their personal knowledge of the Son of God by the Spirit of God through the Word of God, they will be eager to follow Christ in discipleship and ministry. They will become team players alongside the pastor rather than being mere spectators sitting on the sidelines watching the ministry of the pastor. They will no longer be content to accept the ministry of their pastor as a substitute for their own ministry within and through the body.
The Lost Spiritual Discipline of Meditation
The majority of church members today have not learned to go to their Savior directly by meditation, worship, and adoration. Lest we forget, meditation is a godly discipline that is resisted by our natural faculties. Our cognitive faculties are dialed into sensual stimuli. As our media-saturated culture becomes more and more visually stimulated by man-made fantasies, it becomes increasingly difficult to tune our hearts into the invisible truths of the gospel. It is work to have the eyes of the heart opened fully wide to behold by faith unseen spiritual certainties. But the labor of meditation is necessary if our souls are to be ravished by the sight of our wealth in the Son of God.
The eyes of our hearts must be enlightened in order for us to be constrained and animated by God’s love in Christ. In considering the concentration and labor necessary to meditate on the Word of God, an illustration may be helpful. By way of example, consider the fact that 37 tons of metal, crew, fuel, and payload in the shape of a Tomcat fighter jet can only remain airborne at mach 2.0 if multiple physical laws are strictly obeyed. Friction, gravity, and heat all seek to bring the craft back to earth in a jumble of disorder. So also, nature fights against our attempts to meditate upon invisible spiritual realities. The Word, the Spirit, and the mind must all come together in order to gaze continually with the eyes of faith upon invisible spiritual realities. We must individually and collectively as the people of God discipline ourselves to meditate upon the Word of God as a crucial step toward church renewal.
It takes meditation in order for spiritual truth to come alive so as to renew the mind and transform the life. But teaching biblical meditation will of necessity require detailed, step by step instruction and examples. This is because our media culture is characterized by a mind numbing busy-ness, but paradoxically, also by a mental laziness. Most people slow down by entering a “veg-out” mode of passively watching television. The enemy, however, has virtually complete control over television programming which has become a conduit for postmodern thought (i.e., no absolute truth, moral relativism, erroneous view of tolerance, moral and intellectual autonomy, etc.) Viewers who attempt to “relax, refresh, and recharge” by hours of television are unwittingly imbibing postmodern values in the process of devoting themselves to mindless amusement.
Believers need to be “unplugged” from the deadening effects of postmodern culture. If Christians refuse to stir themselves so as to dedicate their minds to love God’s truth, they will of necessity find themselves conformed to the world (Rom 12:1-2). They will be unable to mourn and grieve over the sins of this generation. Their zeal for soul-winning will fade into apathy toward the lost as their attention turns to maintaining their personal comfort and entertainment. By contrast, biblical meditation requires mental discipline and concentration, and even self-confrontation. It’s impossible to be passive and meditate on Scripture at the same time.
It is my prayer that over the next several weeks, the the Holy Spirit will guide our church family into a sincere hunger and preparation for true spiritual renewal.
Thanks to the church family for ALL of your hard work! Thanks to all those who came. It was an HONOR to have you stop by and be with us. Some stayed all day, others for part, others could only come by for a little while, but we were glad to meet you.
Praying God will bless and honor the seed of the Gospel that was sown today. “Jesus is still the answer for a world that’s longing for peace!”
On Saturday, September 10, 2011, the church family at Progress Baptist will host a “Patriot Day Family Picnic” in honor of those who serve our community and country. We are inviting: law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, and veterans from the greater Hendersonville area. Please join us for this special event for the entire family and allow us to say “thank you” for all you do!
Place: Etowah Park (near the Etowah Elementary School on Etowah School Road)
Time: Activities begin at 10:00 A.M. Lunch will be served at 12:30 P.M., and a patriotic service, lasting approximately one hour, will begin at 1:30 P.M.
There will be games and activites especially for the children twelve and under. We will also have softball, horseshoes, volleyball, and flag football for the young people and adults. And there will also be time to just sit and relax!
There is absolutely no charge for anything! We simply want you to come, enjoy some time with your family, and let us serve you!
Please bring your lawn chairs!
NOTE: For planning purposes, please let us know if you plan on coming. You can write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. RSVP is not required, however! If you find out at the last minute that you can come, we’d LOVE to have you!
In Philippians 2:15, the Word of God says, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
It is certainly no exaggeration to describe the world we live in today as “crooked and perverse.” Listen to the news at the top and bottom of the hour on your local talk-radio station, and you will be convinced that perversion has somehow become “mainstream.”
What is sadder though, is this fact; God’s children have seemingly decided that the way to rescue folks who are walking in this darkness is to dim the lights and become as much as possible like the dark world in which we live. This defies the truth of God’s Word. In Ephesians 5:8, we find, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
It is true that many will reject the light; but not all! We must continue walking in the light of God’s Word, keeping our lamp trimmed and bright. We are His ambassadors, and as such, we are the only hope of this sin-cursed world. He left us here with a command to preach the gospel and to shed His light into their sin-darkened souls.
As children, many folks learned the song, “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine!” Let’s keep the light on, keep it bright, and let it shine to this world groping in the darkness of sin!
Thank you, and GOD bless you Progress Baptist Church Family! Praise God for the excellent turnout today!! For the size of our church family, twenty-six folks was a huge blessing to me, and I believe you honored our Lord and Saviour!
Several folks had told me over the past few weeks about work conflicts and travel plans over the Labor Day Weekend. So, I was thrilled to see all of you.
God’s Word speaks about the enemy stealing the seed. Let’s continue to pray that God will protect the seed, and that hearts, lives, and families will be changed by the power of the gospel as a result of the outreach today.
Mark your calendars! On Saturday, September 3, our goal is to distribute 2,000 evangelistic packets in our county. These packets will include a John/Romans, church tracts, and a postcard listing upcoming events at Progress Baptist.
Please begin praying for God to bless this seed, and make plans to be at the church at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, September 3, to help sow the seed of the Gospel!
Congratulations to the Progress Voice, our Bible quiz team made up of six young people from the church family. Saturday, August 20 marked the beginning of the 2011-2012 quiz year in the Piedmont Quizzing Association, and quizzers from four states competed. This month’s quiz covered John chapters 1-4, and the team did a great job, winning both of their quizzes. In the first quiz, a team bonus was awarded because five different team members had answered correctly. It is always exciting to see the entire group working toward a common goal!
Our goal and prayer in the quiz program is the the Holy Spirit will guide these young people, and that they will submit to the eternal truth they are hiding in their heart. It is possible to participate in Bible quiz for purely academic reasons, but our prayer as a church family is that these young people will use these verses as an anchor for their soul.
God bless you, young people! We’re thankful for your hard work and great testimony today!
For several months at Progress Baptist we’ve been studying the spiritual gifts outlined in Romans 12. For the first several weeks, we studied the foundation needed to properly exercise our spiritual gifts. We then moved on to the framework necessary to give structure and guidance for the most effective use of those gifts. A few weeks ago, we actually began studying the individual gifts and their use in edifying the Body of Christ, the Church, as well as in the spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While studying the gift of teaching (Romans 12:7), I was once again reminded, but in a more powerful way than ever before, of the responsibility of responding properly to the teaching of the Word of God. Praise God for those who have the gift of teaching and use it well. But what responsibility do we have as hearers?
The answer is clear. When it is plain to see that the teacher/preacher of God’s Word has rightly divided the Scripture, we must obey! Certainly, we have a responsibility to search the Scriptures ourselves, not with a critical spirit, but with a heart’s desire to see if these things are so. (Acts 17:11) As hearers, our clearest command, however, as described in James 1:22-25, is to be doers of the Word. There is a great amount of good, solid, Bible preaching and teaching in our day. There is not, however, an equal proportion of obedience.
It is interesting to note that the same chapter in Acts (17) that commends the believers at Berea for searching the Scriptures daily also describes the three primary responses you will see any time the Word of God is declared. In verses 32 – 34, we see that some mocked, while others waited to make a decision (remember – slow obedience is disobedience!), and finally there were those who believed and cleaved to the Word and to those who had taught them.
Each time you have the privilege of receiving the Word, be sure to respond properly. Only in the past few hundred years have we had such free access to the Scripture. By failing to respond properly to His revelation of Himself, we can limit the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, homes, and churches. Luke 12:48 tells us that we will give account for the great truth and teaching we have received. Let’s search our hearts and be sure we are responding properly.
Proverbs 7 gives a clear description of the “strange woman,” and has been preached and taught for generations to warn men and women alike of her dangers. Surely in the sensual day we live in, our ladies need to be reminded to avoid any characteristic that would identify them with this wicked woman, and our men must be warned to stay away from this woman whose house is, “the way to hell.”
Sadly, though, the key to the chapter is likely found in verses 19 and 20. “For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey; he hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.” Could this “absentee husband” be the root cause of this woman’s wandering heart? I believe it is! He hasn’t had to go away to find work in order to provide for his family; he left with a bag of money. He has very likely made the mistake many men have made. That is, once he won the heart of this lady and married her, he then allowed his heart to move on to other conquests. There is apparently an adventurous, untamed spirit inside of “Mr. Goodman!” She very possibly possessed this same, wild-at-heart, free-spirited type of personality. Maybe that is what initially attracted them to each other. Now, it seems he wants to continue living this adventurous life while she stays at home; prim, proper, and domesticated!
I Peter 3:7 instructs husbands to dwell with their wives, “according to knowledge.” The goodman of the house in Proverbs chapter 7 did NOT do this! While she is (as we all are) responsible for her reprehensible behavior, there is more to this story than meets the eye in a brief reading of the chapter. May God help us as men to love our wife as Christ loved the church. Let’s learn them, and dwell with them, “according to knowledge.” The Christian home is under constant Satanic attack, and we have to vigilant with the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” if we are going to withstand in this evil day.
We only need to read the first few verses of Philippians chapter 1 to realize that the Apostle Paul had a special relationship with this church. Phrases like, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” “making request with joy,” and “your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,” are reserved for this body of believers.
In chapter 2 we find this man of God with a pastor’s heart provoking and challenging the church to become everything God would have them to be. In much the same way, a parent, coach, or teacher will often work a little longer, even be tougher at times, with that child or student in whom he sees exceptional ability and potential. As spiritual teachers, our heart is thrilled when we see others reach beyond what they are currently doing for God. Likewise, our hearts our burdened, at times broken, when we see people fall short of what God wants to, and CAN do with their life. In chapter 2 of Philippians, we will look at four important areas in which God and His man wanted this church to excel.
First is the vital area of unity.Verse 2 uses these expressions, like-minded, one accord, and one mind. Surely these attributes are as important now as they were then! The world mocks and laughs at the division among churches and between churches. They see fighting, turmoil, and division in the life they are living in sin and in the world. They do not need to see the same thing at the house of God. They key to having this vital component of a truly Godly church is found in the next, much-needed character trait.
Humility is the oil that will make everything run smoothly around the house of God! Look at our Supreme Example in verse seven, “no reputation,” “form of a servant,” and “made in the likeness of men.” What a difference we would see in our homes and churches if every member would strive to have the mind of Christ in this life-changing area of humility. Imagine a church where the members are truly striving to serve one another. Think about the Christ-like spirit in a church where the pastor truly sees himself as a minister, or as defined in Scripture, a waiter. (Matthew 20:26)
The third component of a thriving local body of believers is charity. Vastly different from our modern idea of pity, Biblical charity is simply love in action. In other words, when the first two elements are found in the local body, a natural outgrowth will be brotherly love that has feet! In other words we do not love in “word and tongue” but rather, “deed and truth” as described in I John 3:18. This is the kind of love that “worketh no ill to his neighbor” and “thinketh no evil” in I Corinthians 13. Impossible? Absolutely not! What is required is for each member of the body to walk in the Spirit and allow God’s love to work in him and through him.
Next is the much-needed area of purity. In verse 15 Paul uses these words/phrases to describe his heart’s desire for the church: blameless, harmless, without rebuke, and shine as lights; all synonyms for a pure, clean testimony in a wicked and gainsaying world. Sadly, preaching and teaching on separation from the world is typically labeled legalism. A growing, deepening, maturing walk with God, however, will and MUST allow us to see harm and danger in things that would not have bothered us in the past. Peter wrote that we were ignorant when we walked in these former lusts. (I Peter 1:14) This is not legalism, but it is growing in grace, and becoming more like Christ. In the evil day we live in, it is not time for Bible-believers to become slothful in this area of purity. We are “the bride of Christ,” and we should strive to walk worthy of the Lord.
The final result of unity, humility, charity, and purity, will be the equally-important component of vitality. Many churches today are weak and anemic. The singing is lifeless, there is little/no worship, and you are left wondering if the preacher even wanted to be there. There should life, joy, and energy in a Bible-preaching, Christ-honoring New Testament Church! Members who are truly living for the Lord and fighting the devil all week should be thrilled about coming together with their church family to worship Jesus and get re-loaded to fight the enemy for another week. Paul said in verse 12 of chapter 2, “work out your own salvation”, and in verse 16, “holding forth the Word of Life.” Both of these ideas carry with them the idea of vim, vigor, and vitality!
In these last days the seeker-sensitive movement has confused many so-called Bible believers as to the real purpose of the church. We need only to read the “Owner’s Manual” to see what God’s purpose is for the church of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, it is a job we cannot do. But when we realize we cannot, we learn that only He can. Then when we allow Him to work through us, He alone receives the glory. God’s purpose for the church at Philippi 2,000 years ago is STILL His purpose for the local church today. Let’s return to His blueprint and rely on Him for His power to get it done!