Friday, August 26, 2016

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, August 26, 2016

I am sorry for my unplanned missing Wednesday night service but I want to thank Keith Williams for leading the service with only a couple hours of notice.  Thanks Keith.

Next Wednesday night our new Children's ministry will have a Arrow Kid's Club's Kickoff with all the adults, students and children meeting in the Auditorium at 6:10.  The official night of the first Club meetings in the newly remodeled facilities will be Wednesday, September 7.

This Sunday, all the children (Grades 1-6) will meet in the Gym for Sunday School.  This is due to all the classes moving to their new space in the basement under the Student Center.  All Children's (Grade 1-6) Sunday School classes will meet in their new spaces Sunday, September 4.  (Daphne Garrett's class is the only one not moving).

Then our newly remodeled Student Center will be open for the Students Wednesday, September 7. How exciting!!

We will have "Open House" for our newly remodeled facilities on Sunday, September 11 after the morning service.

We need some volunteers to help with Upward on GameDay through October 1.  We need 4 volunteers per game (9:00, 10:00 and 11:00) to operate the scoreboards and hold down markers.  The immediate need is this Saturday's games. Contact Drew Hogsed at 256-599-3231 if you can help or sign up in the Foyer.

This Sunday morning, many of our Adult classes will be studying The Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10.  In light of that, I have chosen to use that same text from which to preach (I am preaching from the Gospel of Luke this year).  I've entitled the message "The Gospel In a Story."

Sunday night I conclude the series "Worship: The Passion of God for God" with this message "Earthly Worship is a Rehearsal for Heavenly Worship" based on Revelation 4-5.  We are having tremendous attendance (over 160 the last two Sunday nights) and I look forward to a wonderful night of worship.

Men...don't forget Sunrise Breakfast Fellowship in the morning at Cracker Barrel at 6:00.

Love you church family.  It is an honor to serve our Lord and you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How Do I Know if My Child Has Become a Christian? by Scott Slayton

Dear church:
In light of my annual message this past Sunday "Helping a Child Understand Salvation" I thought I would also share this article posted originally August 4, 2016 on the same subject.  
I'm yours helping you to lead your child to a true conversion experience with  Christ.
God tasks parents with the holy calling of raising our children, “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In this our greatest task is to help them understand the Gospel so they might trust in Christ and be saved. The problem for parents is that we often have a difficult time discerning when our kids have truly come to Christ. Either we get excited that our kids are showing interest in the Gospel and pronounce them Christians too quickly or we are so afraid of them making a false profession of faith that we go a long time without treating them as a brother or sister in Christ.
As parents we do have some guidance in knowing if our children are truly in the faith. Everything that would be present in an adult’s conversion will be present in a child’s conversion, but it will show itself in a different manner. I was 19 when I came to Jesus, and was aware of my new life in Christ the moment it took place. At the same time we have stories like John Piper’s. He does not remember his conversion, but his mother was convinced he came to faith and he does not remember ever not believing since then.
We can never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if our child has actually trusted in Christ, but we can see evidences that point to a genuine conversion. Here are some questions we can ask as we attempt to discern whether or not our children have trusted in Christ.

Does Your Child Know He Needs a Savior?

Awareness of sin and the need for a savior is an absolute necessity in conversion. While a child will not have years of drunkenness or debauchery for which they should be ashamed, he will know he has sinned and needs to be forgiven. In Romans 2, Paul talks about the law being written on the heart of every person. We instinctively know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
When your child tells you he wants to become a Christian or starts talking about baptism, ask him why he is thinking about this now. Draw out of him, in his words at his age level, whether he feels conviction for his sins and knows that he needs a Savior. Unless he is convinced of his sins, he cannot know that he has a problem from which he needs to be saved.

Does Your Child Understand Jesus’ Death and Resurrection?

If your child shows awareness of and conviction for sin, begin to talk to her about Jesus. You will not be looking for her to give a discourse on the hypostatic union or penal substitutionary atonement. Does she know Jesus is the son of God? Does she believe that he is real, and that he lived the perfect life we could never live?
Then you should move into a discussion about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Can she articulate the basic facts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Again, you are not looking for a doctoral level treatise, but in her words can she tell you about what Jesus did for her. What you are looking for here is illumination. As she talks about Jesus, do you see an awareness that she understands and knows this at a heart level?

Does Your Child Believe She is Saved by Repentance and Faith?

The other night we read about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment so she could be healed in our family devotion. Jesus told her that her faith made her well. I took that opportunity to talk to our daughters about salvation being by faith alone. Their Dad is a pastor, their Grandfather is a pastor, their Uncle is a pastor, and their Great-Grandfather was a pastor. They never remember a time when they were not gathering with the church each Sunday and never remember a time when they were not hearing the Gospel in family devotions and in discussions during everyday life, so I wanted to make sure they heard a clear reminder that none of these things make them a Christian.
When your child approaches you about becoming a Christian, you must make sure that she gets this. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” The Scripture’s testimony is clear, and while your child may not be able to give you an excursus on justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness, you do want her to evidence that she knows she must repent and trust in Jesus. Does she understand that her works or her baptism don’t make her a Christian, but that repentance and trust in Jesus do? Does she have childlike faith in Jesus Christ alone?

Is Your Child Showing Signs of New Life?

Seeing signs of the work of the Spirit in your child’s life is not as evident as it would be in an adult. Your six-year old is not going to have the same kind of testimony that a man with a notorious past would have, but his salvation is just a miraculous. If he has trusted in Jesus, he has been born again and the Holy Spirit indwells him. He will shows evidences of conversion.
If believers grow in conviction over our sins, compassion for other people, and display the fruit of the Spirit, then this will be present in your child’s life. It will be there in childlike form, but it will be there. You will also start to see the lights come on for him spiritually. He will start to understand more of God’s truth and demonstrate a greater awareness of God’s work in his life. As you observe his life, do you see signs of the Spirit’s work in him?

Is Your Child Free from External Pressures?

The invitation system, a pressure-packed VBS or kids’ camp, and friends getting baptized can start putting pressure on your child to make a profession of faith without actually understanding the Gospel. Often children want to know why they can’t take Communion, and hear the answer, “because you haven’t been baptized yet.” In their minds the solution seems simple, “then let me get baptized so I can take Communion.”
You can never know for certain that your child has pure motives in his desire to become to profess Christ, but you should examine to the best of your ability any outside forces that may be exerting pressure on him. Ask him what made him start thinking about this. It may have been a friend’s baptism, but what about the event made him start pondering it for himself? Communion may have sparked an interest in him, but does he just want to take the bread and juice, or did hearing the meaning of Communion draw him to Jesus? These are all factors for you to ask about, think through, and pray over.

Always Bring the Gospel to Your Children

Your child does not get a visible mark on her forehead or a stripe on her back when she comes to Jesus, so you have to talk, pray, and discern. Invite your pastor in to talk to your child and ask questions. He may be able to see and hear things you don’t.
Most of all though, keep putting the Gospel in front of your children. Talk about it in everyday life, in family devotions, and around the table after Sunday worship. Sing songs, pray over your kids, and repent to them when you have wronged them. God’s word never returns void, our labor in the Lord is not in vain, and in due time we will sow if we reap, so take every opportunity to tell and show your kids that Jesus is better than life.

Monday, August 22, 2016

10 Great Commission Thoughts to Challenge You Today by Chuck Lawless

Five times in the New Testament, Jesus gave us a command about taking the gospel to the world (Matt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:45-47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8). Think about Jesus’ words and the thoughts below today, and pray about your role in this task. 
  1. Many of us have more Bibles in our home than we have human beings.Meanwhile, only about 550 languages of the world’s 7000 languages have the whole Bible in that language. About 1800 languages still have none of the Bible translated.
  2. A single 30-minute sermon is more time in the Word than 3 billion+ people in the world have had engaging the Word in their entire lifetime. We who have access to the Word through preaching, study, books, the Internet, etc., have great reason not to take these gifts for granted.
  3. Studies show that many North American believers do not share with others the gospel of Jesus Christ. That means we’re not doing the Great Commission at its most basic level – sharing Christ with our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
  4. By some estimates, no more than 2% of church contributions go to international missions. Yet, more than 3 billion people in the world are in unreached people groups, and millions in “reached” groups don’t know Jesus.
  5. In America, the ratio of Southern Baptist churches (my denomination) to the population is 1 church for every 6,194 persons. In Canada, that ratio is 1 church:115,040 people. In the Northeastern United States – where 17 percent of the U.S. population lives on 2 percent of the country’s land mass – the ratio is 1:37,788. Needless to say, we need more God-focused, evangelical congregations in North America.
  6. In New York City, more than 800 languages are spoken in homes. God is bringing the world to the United States, and we must be willing to go where unreached people are – even on this continent, and even across the street.   
  7. More than 150,000 people around the world die each day. Based on the lostness of the world, we can assume that most of these people do not know Jesus. This fact should break us and move us.
  8. More missionaries are sent to the United States than any other country.Christianity Today reported in 2013 that the U.S. sent out and received more missionaries than any other country. In some ways, other believers around the world recognize our lostness more than we do.
  9. As many as 100,000 churches in America are facing “accelerated decline” in 2016. Thom Rainer argues that more and more church members are not willing to be a part of ineffective churches. This decline must have some effect on Great Commission work.
  10. Somebody brought the gospel to you. It may have been parents, grandparents, a friend, a pastor, or someone else. Even before that, somebody brought the message to them. All of us are recipients of somebody else’s Great Commission obedience. How can we not do the same for others? 

Friday, August 19, 2016

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, August 19, 2016

My heart is excited as I prepare and pray for this coming Lord's Day here at Rainsville First Baptist Church.  I will finish the short series "Jesus, the Hometown Preacher" as we continue to preach the Gospel - good news of Jesus based on Luke 4: 16-21.

Sunday night I feel very led to share the message "Helping a Child Understand Salvation."  I first shared this with you last August, but I so believe that Christian parents should be leading their own children to the Lord that I want to share this message again.  Yes, the church partners with you, but since God did not bypass you bringing your child into the world physically, neither does He desire to bypass you to bring them into a spiritual birth.

Reminder:  with summer over, we are moving our monthly business meeting back to Sunday nights and our business meeting will be this Sunday night after the evening service.

Pray for me Tuesday night as I preach at the "Family Revival" at Beulah Baptist Church near Albertville.  I was blessed to be their pastor in the 80s and look forward to going back for this one night to share fellowship and worship with this great church.  Pastor Tony Holcomb is doing a great job of leading them to some of their greatest heights ever.  Service is at 7:00 this Tuesday.

My heart is saddened by the flooding in south Louisiana.  I love that part of this country due to having lived there in the 80s.  Pray for all that are suffering and the families of the 13 who have died.
Southern Baptist are there through Disaster Relief.  If you would like to give to help, our own Disaster Relief would be the best way to give.  Click here to learn more and donate. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This coming Lord's Day will see a few changes in our worship service that I want you to be anticipating:

*  Video Announcements - we will be doing our announcements via video.  If you have an announcement for the service, it needs to be in the office by noon Wednesday to be included.

*  Scripture Reading and Prayer - we will be reading the Scriptures each Sunday morning alternating between the Old and New Testaments plus spending some extended and specific time in prayer, as a church.

As we come to the prayer time, feel free to assume your posture of prayer (kneeling at the altar, standing, kneeling, laying prostrate).  At the prayer time, we will pray specifically for those in our community, nation and world including government officials, schools, churches and pastors, missionaries, and church events.  The bulletin will have listed those for whom we are praying on that particular Sunday.

*  Offering Encouragement
At the offering, Gary Blevins will be leading us into a Biblical concept of Stewardship.  He will challenge, inspire and encourage us to be a fully developed and faithful steward in our mind, body, finances, relationships, diet, exercise, etc.

We were so excited this past Sunday to see all those children lined up across the front ushering in the new "Arrow Kid's Club" Ministry.  Training for all the leadership is tonight and next Wednesday night at 6:00 in the LFH.  This training will also include training on the new check-in system for all preschoolers and children.

We are having a Church-wide Family Kickoff for the Arrow Kid's Club Ministry on Wednesday, August 31 at 6:10 beginning in the Auditorium and then moving to the Gym and a walk-through in the new Children's area.  This is will be a great, one night event of bringing all the adults, students and children together on a Wednesday night.

The first "full-night" of Arrow Kid's Club will be Wednesday, September 7 at 6:10.

Pray for Kyle Coots as he has arrived on campus at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Classes begin for him next week.

Also pray for Jody Shankles and family in the passing of his brother (Visitation 4-8 today at Wilson Funeral Home, Ft. Payne; Funeral tomorrow at 1:00 at Second Baptist Church, Ft. Payne); Coach Terry Mitchell who is having surgery today in Huntsville and for Anthony Cooper who had surgery last week.

Love you church family and it is an honor to serve you!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ten Things to Know About Satan by Sam Storms

Here are 10 things we should know about Satan.
(1) Satan, like all other angels, was created at a point in time (Col. 1:16; John 1:1-3). Satan is not eternal. He is a finite creature. He is, therefore, God's Devil. Satan is not the equal and opposite power of God (contra dualism). His power is not infinite. He does not possess divine attributes. In sum, he is no match for God! At most, Satan is the equal and opposite power of the archangel Michael.
(2) We don’t know how or when Satan rebelled against God, as the two texts most often cited to account for this more than likely do not have Satan and his fall in view (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19).
(3) Satan’s names reveal much about his character. The title Satan is used 52x in the Bible. It literally means "the adversary," the one who opposes (see Zech. 3:1-2; Num. 22:22,32; 1 Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4; 11:14, 23, 25). In Psalm 109:6 it has the sense of "accuser" or "prosecuting attorney".
He is also called the “Devil,” a word that is used 35x and literally means "slanderer" or "accuser" (diabolos; see 1 Sam. 29:4; 1 Kings 11:14. In Luke 4:2, 13; Rev. 12:9, 12). Other names or descriptive titles for Satan include Lucifer (?), the old Serpent (Rev. 12:9, 15, an obvious allusion to Genesis 3; cf. 2 Cor. 11:3; Rom. 16:20), the Great Dragon (Rev. 12:3, 7, 9, 17). He is a terrifying, destructive beast. He is also the Ruler or Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and the Ruler or Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
Satan is also called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4; but see Ps. 24:1; 89:11), the evil one (Matt. 6:13; 13:38; John 17:15; 1 John 2:14; 5:18), and the Prince or Ruler of demons (Matt. 10:25; 12:26-27; Luke 11:15; 2 Cor. 6:15). The name or title "Beelzebul" has been taken to mean "lord of dung" (i.e., god of filth), "enemy," "lord of the dwelling" (i.e., the dwelling of demons), and "lord of the flies," a title given to one of the pagan gods of the Philistines, brought over into Judaism as a name for Satan.
He is the Destroyer (Rev. 9:11), where the Hebrew word "Abaddon" could mean ruin or destruction, and the Greek term "Apollyon" exterminator or destroyer. Finally, Satan is the Tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5), the Accuser (Rev. 12:10), and the Deceiver (Rev. 12:9; 20:3). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44; either an allusion to the murder of Abel by Cain or to the fall in Genesis 3; cf. 1 John 3:11-12), and a master of misrepresentation (2 Thess. 2:9; 2 Cor. 11:14-15).
(4) Satan operates according to a plan or a scheme (2 Cor. 2:10-11; Eph. 6:11). Although he is indescribably evil, he evidently is not entirely stupid!
(5) Satan works in active opposition to the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4) and seeks to thwart the missionary outreach of the gospel (1 Thess. 2:18).
(6) He is occasionally, but not always, the source of sickness (Acts 10:38; Matt. 8:16; Mark 9:17-18; Luke 13:10-17), and can inflict death as well as provoke the paralyzing fear of it (Heb. 2:14; see Job 1:13-19; John 10:10). He plants sinful plans and purposes in the minds of men (Acts 5:3; John 13:2; Matt. 16:21-23) and, on occasion, will himself indwell a person (Judas in John 13:27).
(7) He sets a snare or trap for people (perhaps with a view to exploiting and intensifying their sinful inclinations (1 Tim. 3:6-7; 2 Tim. 2:25-26), and will often test or try Christians (Luke 22:31-32).
(8) Satan incites persecution, imprisonment, and the political oppression of believers (1 Pet. 5:8-9; Rev. 2:10), is the accuser of the Christian. (Rev. 12:10; see also Zech. 3:1-2), performs signs and wonders to deceive the nations (Exodus; 2 Thess. 2:9-11), and seeks to silence the witness of the church (Rev. 12:10-12).
(9) He seeks to incite disunity and division (2 Cor. 2:10-11); promotes false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 2:24; 2 Cor. 11:1ff.); manipulates the weather (when given permission to do so by God; Job 1:18-19; and perhaps Mark 4:37-39); and influences the thoughts and actions of unbelievers (Eph. 2:1-2). He attacks married believers in regard to their sexual relationship (1 Cor. 7:5) and exploits our sinful decisions, most likely by intensifying the course of action we have already chosen (Eph. 4:26-27). Of course, he often confronts us with various temptations (1 Chron. 21:1; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Thess. 3:5).
(10) Satan, together with all his fallen demonic hosts, will eventually be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10; see also Matt. 25:41).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five on August 6, 2016

John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five
Audio Transcript
Last Sunday morning, at around 11:30, an entire family entered heaven together.
Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their small children were driving from Minneapolis to Colorado for final preparations as missionaries to Japan. They planned to leave in October. But in an interstate construction zone in western Nebraska, a semi truck rear-ended the family’s vehicle.
Tragically, the entire family died at the scene, including Jamison and Kathryne, both 29, and their three young children, 3-year-old Ezra, 23-month-old Violet, and 2-month-old Calvin.
The 53-year-old trucker was arrested and charged with five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide.
Today, the faith and obedience of Jamison and Kathryne Pals was celebrated at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. John Piper was asked to deliver the pastoral prayer. Here’s what he said.

O Lord, God of might and mercy and mystery, you have driven the arrows of your quiver into the breast of your people, your beloved. You have filled our throat with bitterness and gall. You have made our teeth grind on gravel, and laid us down with wounds in the ashes of dreams.
You have taken away our sleep, and replaced our gladness with groaning. You have covered us with the shadows of those we love, and we have reached out in vain to touch their bodies.
Happiness has left through the window where the rain pours in, peace has put her hand on the latch, and endurance wavers at the threshold of our soul.
A voice is heard, like Rachel’s — lamentation and bitter weeping. Where is the comfort for her children, because they are no more. You have spared us — us who have lived out our days through no merit of our own, who would happily have finished our course and taken their place, but you have not spared the children, or the valiant, young lovers and your most loyal servants.
O Lord, our eyes are on you. We do not look to another for hope. To you alone. To you we cry. Remember our affliction, remember the bitter wormwood and the gall! You have not made us drink this cup in vain.
This we call to mind, and therefore we have hope: Your steadfast love, O LORD, never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. You alone, O Lord, are our portion, therefore we will hope in you.
You are good to those who wait for you, to the soul who seeks you. You are good today. You were good last Sunday. We are waiting, we are looking for the salvation of the Lord. We are not running from the yoke of this dark providence, or throwing off the burden of your good sovereignty. But we are waiting, and looking, for the yoke to be made easy and the burden light.
You do not hide yourself forever. Though you cause grief, you will have compassion, according to the abundance of your steadfast love; for you do not afflict from your heart, or grieve the children of men.
We know your heart, O God. For there is nothing in the world more bright, more blazing, more terrible, more beautiful, more bloody, more hopeful, than the revelation of your heart in the death and triumph of your Son, Jesus.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the great and glorious Rock where we stand — or lie prostrate — and on which we give thanks for the lives of Jamison and Kathryne and Ezra and Violet and Calvin, who did not count their lives to be more valuable than obedience.
We praise you that they did not snatch a few vain years of life on this earth in exchange for allegiance to their King, but set their faces, like flint, toward Japan and the finishing of their course and the ministry they had received from the Lord Jesus.
And we praise you that they did finish it — like your apostle Paul who wrote from Rome, “I have finished my course,” though he never got to Spain.
We stand on this mighty Rock of Christ, and his shed blood for our sins, and for the sins of the Pals family, and on his victorious triumph over death. And standing on this Rock we pray . . .
For these parents — grandparents, great-grandparents — who sit with pieces of thread in their hands from a fabric of life woven from the womb, and then consumed. Father, we ask that you would sustain in their hearts an unshakeable confidence that the countless hours of investment in Jamison and Kathryne and the children were not in vain. Because your promise in1 Corinthians 15:58 that their labors were not in vain is built with a mighty “therefore” on the massive foundation of the greatest chapter in the Bible about the blood-bought resurrection of Christ and his people from the dead.
And we pray for these brothers and sisters of Jamison and Kathryne that in spite of the sudden and horrific severing of priceless sibling ties they will feel the unbreakable bond that binds them still through the brotherhood of Jesus, who said, “Who are my brothers and sisters? Here are my brothers and sisters! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Lord, cause this family to know and feel: This circle is not broken.
And we pray for these cousins — the children. O God, make the risen, living, reigning Jesus real to them. And as they taste what we could wish no child would have to taste, grant them to know and feel that in the arms of Jesus all are well, for he did not promise, “I will be with you to the end of your life,” but “to the end of the age.” In death and life.
And we pray for the young people who remain — in this church and throughout the world — that they may find the love of their lives — their Kathryne, their Jamison — and embrace together the second proposal Jamison made — to lead the family in obedience — “whether it is life or death or discomfort or disappointment . . . to take up our cross — just as he did — to suffer and die” (April 15). Lord, in the name of Jesus, and by the blood of these five, I ask, raise up — raise up! — a legion of replacements for the global glory of his imperial Majesty, Jesus Christ. Forbid that any of your children would hear of this news, and waste their lives on trifles.
And we pray, Father, for Tony Weekly, whose head is covered with shame and whose hands are stained with blood. The heart of this family is not a vengeful heart. We pray that Mr. Weekly will find the one and only remedy for shame and guilt, Jesus. And we ask that, in time, through Christ, he would make his way to heaven, and know the indescribable miracle of reconciliation with those already there.
And finally, we pray for Japan, that the great idols of gold and silver and material success would fall before the blood of this family — that these five, even these three little ones, who have now grown to the fullness of their glory and the perfection of beauty, not through the trials of three score and ten, but in the twinkling of an eye — that these all — all five — might be found among the champions of the victory of the gospel in Japan.
In the name of Jesus and for his glory, Amen

More on the Pals Family

Thumb author john piper
John Piper is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.