Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dr. Frank Page elected VP of Evangelism

Click title above to read full story.
I think this is a wonderful step for NAMB. May God bless the efforts of the new team.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Casting Vision: Worship Part 1

Last week, I wrote, “In the coming weeks, I will outline for you what I believe some of the strengths, challenges and future Kingdom work this church can undertake… I will cover different aspects of our church in the coming weeks: worship, Sunday school, missions groups, EFBC ministries, youth and children, and church membership, among others.”

My intention is twofold. I hope to praise the aspects of our church where we excel, and encourage growth in those places where we do not. I also hope to communicate the vision that I believe God is giving us for those areas. I have chosen to do this in the order by which a newcomer to our church might encounter these areas of our church. We will begin by looking at our Sunday morning worship service, which is where most people first experience Edgefield First Baptist.

This is such an important subject, that it will require two weeks to cover it. This week, we will talk about the attitude of worship. This concerns the condition in which we bring ourselves to the house of God, to worship Him. The attitude that we have on Saturday night and Sunday morning have much to do with the offering we bring to church. Next week, we will examine the actual worship service, but we must first make sure our hearts are prepared to truly worship the God of Heaven.

I grew up in a Pentecostal church setting. The worship was lively. The music was sung with passion. Many instruments were used. It was very common for people to say, after a particularly stirring service, “The Holy Spirit really moved in church today. The preacher didn’t even get to preach!” There was no order of worship in a bulletin. There was an unwritten order that we usually followed, but in many services this “order” was interrupted.

I truly felt moved by the Holy Spirit in those services, but the feeling didn’t last long. Afterwards, I struggled to remember anything I had learned from being there. Many times, I was left with only the memory of what song was being played when I felt the goosebumps.

Why was this? I think it is because we were coming to worship with the wrong attitude. I remember saying things like, “I can’t wait to get to church. I really need to get my batteries charged.” Or “I need to get fed.” These kinds of statements make worship about us and what we hope to receive from God. We actually need to come to worship with the attitude of “What can I bring God today?”
Worship is not about coming to God’s holy “feeding trough” so we can make it until the next meal. It’s about offering all that we have to Him. Indeed, God does fill us when we worship Him, but that should be seen as an honor that is bestowed unexpectedly, not a purpose to be desired.
If we, as a church, are to understand God’s plan for worship in our church, we must begin to worship Him unselfishly. We are to come to His sanctuary with a repentant heart, bringing all of who we are and what we have, to Him, as an offering. When we come to God with the correct attitude, stand before Him, and lift our praises to Him, then we can say we have truly worshipped.

Magnificent, Holy, Father,
I stand in awe of all I see.
Of all the things You have created,
still You choose to think of me.

Who am I that You should suffer,
Your very life to set me free.
The only thing that I can give You,
is the life You gave to me.

This is my offering, dear Lord.
This is my offering to You, God.
I will give You my life,
for it’s all I have to give.
Because You gave Your life for me.

I stand before You at this altar.
So many have given You more.
I may not have much I can offer.
Yet what I have is truly Yours.
(Offering Performed by Third Day. Songwriters: Anderson, Carr, Powell, Avery, Lee)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.                   (Romans 12:1 NIV)

Casting Vision

For the past number of weeks we have taken a look at our church’s vision statement and “Key Characteristics” as they are outlined in our church constitution. This discussion has covered a wide range of topics, and I hope they have at least made you think a little about what we do well, what we need to improve, and where God is leading us as a church family.
In the first installment of this series, I wrote;
The prophet Zechariah had a vision of a man with a measuring line in his hand, who was going to measure Jerusalem. When Zechariah asked about this, God told another angel to give him the message, “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the LORD, 'and I will be its glory within.” (Zechariah 2:4-5)… If we truly want Edgefield First Baptist to be all that God wants it to be, then it is time to stop playing church and going through the motions, and fix our eyes, ears, hearts and minds on Him and Him alone. Then, and only then, will we be a church “without walls” with God as our center and protector as Zechariah describes.
Are we ready to be a “church without walls?” Dr. Frank Page challenged us in our Sunday morning revival service, to be useful Christians and a useful church. He also said, “Sometimes, one of the greatest hindrances to a church’s future is a glorious past.” In order to be useful, we cannot rely on what we have done before, but what we are doing now and in the future to grow the Kingdom for Christ.

A member of our church sent an e-mail to me after the first installment of this series ran. In that column, I made the insinuation that interpreting God’s vision for our church is up to the church body. This person indicated that I should share what I perceive God’s vision for this church to be since I am the pastor. The church member writes, “I would like to know exactly what vision you have for us. Yes, we are a congregational church, but whatever God has laid on your heart is important to us all. Tell me/us what future you see for EFBC.”

In the coming weeks, I will outline for you what I believe some of the strengths, challenges and future Kingdom work this church can undertake. Not all of it can be done and implemented right away. Not all of it will appeal to everyone. Not all of it will be easy. However, I have spent much time in prayer, thought, and discussion on all of these topics for the past several years. Only now do I believe the time is right for us to look hard at what we do, what we need to do better, and where God is leading us.

I will cover different aspects of our church in the coming weeks: worship, Sunday School, missions groups, EFBC ministries, youth and children, and church membership, among others. These writings are not criticisms of how we do things now, but a glimpse into what we can be in the future.

Be in prayer about all the areas of our church. If you are involved in certain ministries here, devote more time in prayer for that area. Ask God for guidance and wisdom in whatever you do. If you are not involved in ministry areas of our church, pray about where God can use you and take the leap of faith needed to respond to God as He leads. Remember, there is no age limit and no retirement plan in God’s Kingdom. If you are able to read this or are able to hear it read to you, you are useful to Him!

My prayer is that as we move through this time of seeking God, your Christian walk will be strengthened and you will find God’s purpose in your life. However, also remember that God’s purpose for you is never “just for you.” God intends for you to use what He enables you to do, to influence others for Him.
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NJKV)