Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We are in week two of our Prayer and Fasting emphasis.  In fact, today (Wednesday) is our second day of fasting.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline of replacing food (social media, TV, computer, some form of food) with reading God's Word and prayer.

Remember, discipline leads to desire which leads to delight.  Discipline - Desire - Delight.

The delight is the last thing that comes with disciplines.

Tonight, we continue "The Truth Project" with "Philosophy and Ethics: Says Who?"

We are grateful the youth had a great Winter Retreat and had safety in travel.  79 were present.  Grateful for Bro. Craig and Melinda's leadership of our students.

Upward Basketball begins this Saturday at 9.  131 children are involved.  Thanks to Whitney Wigley for her excellent leadership and to all our leaders and coaches.  What a great ministry.

This Sunday morning at 9:15 in the Large Fellowship Hall we will have our semi-annual meeting of the Care Group Leaders.  This Sunday we will have a light breakfast, so as soon as your duties are over in your class, come on and get you something to eat plus we will have our new booklets for you.

I ask for your prayers for me next week.  This is my schedule:

Monday - I am preaching at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Albertville at 6:30 for their annual Jubilee services.  I have known their pastor, David Martin, for many years and consider him a good friend. He has done a great job there and I am honored to be preaching Monday night.  Visit their web site for more information.  Other speakers are Kevin Hamm and Phil Waldrep plus musical guests Gordon Mote and Kevin Derryberry.

Wednesday - I leave for Mobile to do some scouting for our annual mission trip in July; then will drive to Jacksonville, FL for the Pastor's School at First Baptist Church returning home Monday.

During my absence, Max Roden will be preaching on Sunday morning, January 29 and Hank, Lamar, Fred Bobo will be preaching on Sunday night.

Monday, January 16, 2017

6 Practical Ways to Honor Your Parents by Tim Challies

God’s commandments are perfectly clear in what they say and, broadly, in what they require. Yet implementing those commandments in practical ways and in the nitty-gritty of life can pose a challenge. It can take thought, prayer, creativity. This is exactly the case with the fifth commandment—“honor your father and your mother”—and especially so for adult children. Young children honor their parents through their obedience, but what about adults? How do we honor our parents in ways that are fitting?
I’ve taken a long time to get to this point in my series The Commandment We Forgot, and this has been deliberate. Our tendency is to skip over foundational matters to get straight to the practical stuff. Just give me the list of things to do and I’ll do them! But the deepest change to ourselves as well as the most appropriate honor to our parents will come when we first ensure we understand God’s commandment—what it means, why he gives it, why it matters so much. I trust you’ve tracked with me through the previous articles and if you’ve done that, you’re now ready to consider practical ways in which you can honor your parents.

Honor to Whom Honor Is Due

In a previous article I pointed out that honoring parents is a form of honoring all authority, including God himself. As Tim Keller says, “it’s respect for parents that is the basis for every other kind of respect and every other kind of authority.” I have pointed out as well that there is no ending point to this commandment—we are to honor our parents in childhood and adulthood, for we owe them a debt of honor that never ends.
What is the honor God means for us to give our parents? I am going to offer 6 broad suggestions, though certainly we could come up with many more. I will warn in advance: In every case there will be temptations to say, “Yes, but you don’t know my parents. You don’t know who they are or what they did to me.” I understand that in some cases showing honor may be difficult or very nearly impossible, and in our next article we will discuss some hard cases. But for now, let’s simply consider some practical ways in which we can display honor to our parents.

Forgive Them

Perhaps the most important way we can honor our parents is to forgive them. The fact is, there are no perfect parents. All parents have fallen far short of their children’s expectations and, in all likelihood, even their own expectations. Our parents have sinned against us. They have made unwise decisions, they have had unrealistic expectations, they have said and done things that have left us deeply wounded. For that reason, many children enter adulthood controlled by anger and bitterness. They find themselves unable to move past their parents’ mistakes or their parents’ sin.
We can best honor our parents by forgiving our parents. And this is actually possible, for we serve and imitate a forgiving Savior. In the Bible we see Jesus’s willingness to forgive the ones who had wounded him. In the very moment the nails were driven into his flesh, he cried out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Standing at the foot of the cross and considering such a Savior, who are we to withhold forgiveness from our parents? We honor our parents by extending grace and forgiveness to them.

Speak Well of Them

Another way we can honor our parents is to speak well of them, to refuse to speak evil of them. We live at a time when it is considered noble to air our grievances, when it is considered therapeutic to air our dirty laundry. We think little of telling the world exactly what we think of our governors, our bosses, our parents. Yet the Bible warns us that we owe honor and respect to all of the authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:7). It warns us that our words have the power to extend honor or dishonor. We cannot miss that in the Old Testament the penalty for cursing parents is the same as the penalty for assaulting them (Exodus 21:15-17, Leviticus 20:9), for the root sin is the same. To curse parents or to strike parents is to violate the fifth commandment as well as the sixth.
We need to speak well of our parents. We need to speak well of them while they are alive and speak well of them after they have died, to speak well of them to our siblings, to our spouses, to our children. We need to speak well of them to our churches and communities, modeling a counter-cultural kind of honor and respect that has long since gone missing in too many contexts. Christian, speak well of your parents and refuse to speak evil of them.

Esteem them Publicly and Privately

A third way to show honor to parents is to give them esteem both privately and publicly. In a powerful sermon on the fifth commandment Tim Keller encourages children to “Respect their [parents’] need to see themselves in you.” Parents long to see how they have impacted their children, how their children are a reflection of their strengths, their values. “You don’t realize how important it is to give them credit where you can. You don’t realize how critical it is just to say, ‘You know, everything I really ever learned about saving money I learned from you.’ To say, ‘You know, Dad, that was one thing you always taught me that I really, really appreciated’.” These are simple measures but ones that bring great joy and honor to our parents.
We can give such esteem privately in one-on-one conversation or we can do this publicly, perhaps through speeches or sermons or even conversations around holiday feasts. Dennis Rainey goes so far as to call children to write a formal tribute to their parents, to present it to them and to read it aloud in their presence. We can honor our parents by esteeming our parents.

Seek Their Wisdom

We honor our parents when we seek their wisdom through life’s twists and turns. The Bible constantly associates youth with folly and age with wisdom (Proverbs 20:29, Job 12:12) and tells us that those who have lived longer lives have generally accumulated greater wisdom. We do well, then, to lean on them for understanding, to seek their input when faced with major decisions. In some cultures this is expected and in some it is eschewed. But either way, it honors our parents when we seek their help, even if in the end we cannot or must not heed it.

Support Them

We can also honor our parents by supporting them. I am not yet speaking of financial support, but other forms of love and care. I think of David at a particularly low point in his life, weighed down by cares and attacked by enemies. In this context he cried out to God and said, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Psalm 71:9). David feared the combination of age and isolation, of being old and alone. So too do our elderly parents.
When we are young we gain strength and long for independence. Our parents raise us to be strong and free! But there is a trade-off here, a passing of the baton, for as our parents age they become feeble, they begin to lose their independence (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). We honor our parents by giving them the assurance that we will not forsake them in their old age. Just as they cared for us, we will care for them. This is our responsibility and it ought to be our joy.
At a time when millions of elderly adults are living alone, consigned to nursing homes and hospitals, cared for by professionals rather than family members, Christians have the opportunity to display special honor. Kent Hughes says that even if parents have no financial needs, “there is still a Christian obligation for hands-on, loving care. Nurses may be employed, but there must be more—the care cannot be done by proxy. Emotional neglect and abandonment is not an option, for such conduct ‘is worse than an unbeliever.’”

Provide for Them

Finally, we can honor our parents by providing for them financially. In 1 Timothy 5 we find Paul telling Timothy how to honor widows within the church. As he provides instruction, he gives two important principles: Children are to make some return to their parents (4) and Christians who will not provide for family members are behaving worse than unbelievers (8). Commentators are nearly unanimous in extending these principles to children and their elderly parents. What is unremarkable in some cultures is controversial in others, including my own. Stott points out that “African and Asian cultures, which have developed the extended in place of the nuclear family, are a standing rebuke to the West in this matter.”
When children are young, God expects parents to provide for them (2 Corinthians 12:14). But, according to Stott, “when parents grow old and feeble, it is then that roles and responsibilities are reversed.” Hughes says, “Christian sons and daughters are responsible for the [financial] care of widows and, as the text expands it, of their helpless parents and grandparents.” William Barcley says much the same: “The raising of children requires tremendous sacrifice and it is only right that children make sacrifices for parents in return.” We might also consider Mark 7:9-13 and Jesus’s harsh rebuke of the Pharisees for their refusal to care for their parents.
Perhaps no form of honor more deeply cuts against the Western grain than this one. But it’s clear: The Bible calls Christians to take special responsibility for providing for their family members. This command applies equally to the parents of young children and the children of elderly parents.


God calls every child of every age to show honor to our parents, to refuse to dishonor our parents. He calls us to honor them as the outflow of honoring him. He calls us to be people who respect his sovereignty by respecting the parents he saw fit to give us. In what ways is God calling you to show honor to your parents?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Can I just say again, "I love Sunday nights at Rainsville First!"  What a special night of worship and sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit this past Sunday night.

I have pastors to ask me several times "Do y'all do Sunday night services?"  And when I tell them how strong our attendance is, they are amazed.

YOU (Rainsville First Family) respond so well and what a joy it is to be a part of Sunday night worship here at RFBC.  I sure love preaching on Sunday nights!

We are in the midst of our Prayer and Fasting emphasis.  In fact, today (Wednesday) is our first day of fasting.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline of replacing food (social media, TV, computer, some form of food) with reading God's Word and prayer.

Remember, discipline leads to desire which leads to delight.  Discipline - Desire - Delight.

The delight is the last thing that comes with disciplines.

Tonight, we begin the first "official" session of "The Truth Project" with "Veritology: What Is Truth?"
Again, Bro. Craig and I are joining together using this material for all the family (grandparents, parents and youth).

We are wanting to pray for our Students as they leave Friday afternoon for Pigeon Forge and a conference through Monday.  Pray God will protect them as they travel and God will move mightily among them.

Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Ways to Minister to Restaurant Servers by Chuck Lawless

Our guest blogger today is Trevor Forbis, a student at the College at Southeasternwhere he is pursuing a B.A in philosophy. Trevor is my research assistant, and I want you to hear his thoughts from the perspective of a server. He is a member ofRestoration Church in Wake Forest, NC while he is also completing the Pastoral Apprenticeship at The Summit Church.
Some of the more formative times in my life were when I worked as a server in the restaurant industry, and I believe God wants us to think about how we can better minister to servers. As guests, and more importantly as Christians, we have amazing opportunities to be salt and light to our world, including in our favorite restaurants. Here are 5 ways to minister to your servers:
  1. Ask and remember their name. Learning your servers’ name shows that you value them. Most diners won't take the time to do that, which makes it that much more meaningful when it does happen. I always felt loved when someone remembered my name, and it also challenged me to remember theirs!
  2. Request them specifically. You can often request to sit in a specific server’s section by asking the host or hostess. I loved when people asked for me to serve them. Because people took the time to get to know me on a regular basis, I felt like I was a part of their family. That meant a lot to a college student who lived eight hours from home.
  3. Tip well. “Well” – this is the key word. Non-believers are showing up believers in the area of generosity. Servers see Sunday as one of the worst shifts to work because of poor tips, and that bothers me. We Christians have an opportunity to show that God has given us amazing grace undeserved. What better way to demonstrate this than tipping your server well, even if he or she doesn’t always deserve it?
  4. Ask how you might pray for them. It's a basic step, but a profound one. You may be the only person praying for them that day … or even at all, for that matter. Also, if you regularly request their section and then ask their prayer concerns, you begin to learn how to better pray for them throughout the week. I recall only a handful of people who asked how they could pray for me, but it meant more than they knew.
  5. Be patient with them. There are times when servers will mess things up. Sometimes it may just be an off day, but often they may be struggling with something in their personal life. Your patience and kindness will demonstrate grace to them. I still remember those who were patient with me, and it actually pushed me to serve them better!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fasting Emphasis - January 8, 2017

As we begin our Prayer and Fasting emphasis today, let me link you to some great resources for learning more about the Biblical teachings on fasting and practical guidelines on the Daniel Fast.

Jentezen Franklin has done more in our present time in the area of fasting that most anyone. Visit his web site to find more about prayer and fasting.

If you are interested in the Daniel Fast, I am placing a pdf file on our Facebook page at Rainsville First about how to do the Daniel fast and some recipes.

Primary Purpose of Fasting?

To more fully know God by removing the flesh so the Spirit can be alive.  Fasting is not some kind of hunger strike that is forcing the hand of God to move.  Prayer is warfare. 

You use the time you would normally eat to pursue God.  Fasting is a biblical practice and a spiritual process that God anoints powerfully.  Fasting is not a diet;  it's a spiritual discipline.  As you neglect yourself to purse God, you are winning the war against the flesh.  The walls come down when you approach God with this kind of focus, intentionality, and passion.

There is no mandate in the Bible to fast except on the Day of Atonement.  But fasting is assumed just as is praying and giving (Matthew 6).  Biblical fasting takes a lot of discipline and strength.

Types of Fasts:

*  Absolute Fast (no food/drink)  Ezra 10: 6; Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9*  Normal Fast (no food, drink only liquids such as water and juices).  This appears to be what the Lord did for 40 days.  This is the most common type of fast.*  Partial Fast (certain foods are given up).  This is what Daniel did in Daniel 10:3.  One could give up a meal or a particular kind of food.  Daniel fasted for 21 days.

Online resources helpful for fasting:

Friday, January 6, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart....Friday, January 5, 2017

I begin two new series of sermons this Sunday as we gather for worship.

On Sunday morning, I return to the Gospel of Luke where I will share a series "The Greatest Man to be Born."  No, this is not a series of messages about Jesus but instead Jesus said in Luke 7:28 "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist..."

WOW - what a statement by Jesus.  So, we will focus on the life of John the Baptist.  Interestingly about John, he performed no miracles and his public ministry only lasted about six months.  But what an impact.

This Sunday we begin "A Great Man is Born with Purpose" as examine his birth as recorded in Luke 1.

Then Sunday night, we begin our annual Prayer and Fasting emphasis. Last year we introduced this emphasis and heard so many positive comments about it.  This year, we are going a little deeper.

 We will fast for 24 hours this week beginning at sundown Tuesday until sundown Wednesday. This is the Jewish calendar for fasting (sundown to sundown).

The "pure" way of fasting is do without food. But I realize some may not be able to do that, so fast to whatever degree God leads and is appropriate for you.  Those who cannot fast from food may choose to fast from certain types of food or from social media, television, or something similar.  Even if you cannot fast, pray with us.  We want everyone to participate at some level.

You may want to participate in the Prayer Time each weekday morning (through January 28) at Broadway Baptist Church from 6-7 AM and on Saturday from 9-10 AM in community praying initiated from The Church of the Highlands in Birmingham.  I attended a few times last year and it was a blessing.

We will also be fasting on Wednesday, January 1 and three days from Monday, January 23 through Wednesday, January 25.  

Our focus for these days will be the life of Daniel.  This Sunday night we will look at Daniel 1 and Daniel's practice of fasting.

Looking forward to getting back to our worship times on Sunday nights.