Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Week of Prayer, Tuesday, December 6

David & Hanna's Story

David and Hanna Harris* grew up in Baptist churches, but these days they visit Jewish synagogues, study Hebrew, and take part in Passover meals. As IMB Journeymen they moved from their small town in Kentucky to a megacity in South America to share gospel truth with Jews living there. Part of the process is learning the language and culture of those they’ve come to reach.
The center celebrates Jewish holidays such as Purim and Passover, but always uses the opportunities to bridge to New Testament gospel truths.
Since the first Jews immigrated to this city in the nineteenth century, there has been a thriving community, now numbering more than 200,000. The Harrises, both 25, work at a Messianic Center in the heart of the Jewish community. The center celebrates Jewish holidays such as Purim and Passover, but always uses the opportunities to bridge to New Testament gospel truths. David and Hanna hope that “the veil will be removed from their eyes, and that the truth of the Messiah be made abundantly clear to them.”
  1. PRAY Jewish leaders will come to know Jesus. If the leaders come to know Jesus, it would radically change the community.
  2. PRAY for the equipping of Messianic Jews, those who have embraced Jesus, so they will learn how to share the truth of the Messiah with their people.
*Names changed

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week of Prayer, Monday, December 5

The Copland Family Story

Nick and Shannan Copland use modern tools to meet people and forge relationships in the ancient Italian city of Verona.
Through websites they’ve established, Nick and Shannan, IMB workers, find common ground on social media for “meet-ups” with people who share interests—outdoor life and Italian cuisine being two. Relationships are natural keys in sharing spiritual truth, especially in a postmodern city like Verona—beautiful and wealthy but spiritually impoverished. Friendships formed during mountain hikes or evening meals often lead to sharing about Christ.
Their “meet-ups” have become popular, resulting in Nick and Shannan being tagged locally as the couple who bring people together.
Friendships formed during mountain hikes or evening meals often lead to sharing about Christ.
Speaking English has also opened doors and led the Coplands to organize English camps for local students, using volunteers from the United States. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® allows the Coplands to bring the gospel of Christ to northeast Italy, where Southern Baptists have never worked before this couple planted their lives in Verona.
  1. PRAY for Nick and Shannan as they continue to build relationships and share their lives in this northern Italian city.
  2. PRAY the Coplands would understand where best to focus their energy and efforts as they balance several ministry initiatives.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week of Prayer, Sunday, December 4

Day 1 Harrell Family from IMB on Vimeo.

The Harrell Family Story

Men traveling by boat, sharing the gospel. Paul used the Mediterranean; IMB missionary Brian Harrell skims the coastal waters off Mozambique. Brian steers his dhow, accompanied by a national partner, along the coast where the Makhuwa Nahara people live. This people group has followed Islam since Arab traders arrived 1,000 years ago. And the name of his boat?
Oromela, which in the local dialect means ‘hope,’” explains Brian. He and his wife, Becky, and four children live on the water’s edge solely to reach the approximately 300,000 Makhuwa Nahara people with the gospel, whether it means Brian venturing to unreached villages accessed best by water, or Becky working with village women, making rugs and sharing gospel stories while they work together in a group.
He and his wife, Becky, and four children live on the water’s edge solely to reach the approximately 300,000 Makhuwa Nahara people with the gospel.
The boat has been a game changer, Brian says. “Once you own a dhow, you just become a part of that community. They appreciate it. You’re getting to meet mariners and captains and fishermen and dhow masters. …It just opens up an opportunity for us to share the gospel and become even more a part of their community.”
  1. PRAY the gospel would spread into the more than 100 villages up and down the Harrells’ section of coastline where there is no gospel witness whatsoever and the lostness is overwhelming.
  2. PRAY for new believers and leaders among the Makhuwa Nahara, that their faith would grow deep and strong in the midst of persecution and that they would be bold witnesses and good disciplers.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Missions Sunday this Sunday, December 4

This is one of the few RED LETTER days at Rainsville First Baptist. While every Sunday is vital and important, some days are more weighty and this Sunday, December 4 is one of them due to our emphasis on Missions.

Our special guests this Sunday are Joel and MaryEllen Ragains from New Albany, Indiana. Joel served as Worship Pastor at Graceland Baptist Church, New Albany for 35 years and then at the age of 57 was called to serve as International Mission Board missionaries to Kiev, Ukraine.  He was the Founding Director of Church Planting at Kiev Theological Seminary and served there for twelve and a half years.  In retirement, they are back at Graceland where he is serving as an Elder.

I was privileged to teach two weeks at the seminary in Kiev and personally witness the tremendous impact of this couple.

They will be speaking in the 10:15 service and at the 5:30 Christmas Dinner.

This Sunday we begin our annual Mission offering emphasis.  Due to our changes this year in our mission giving, our Christmas offering will be through the On Mission 1:8 Offering.

When you give (which you can do any time during the year or all through the year) your gifts are distributed as follows:

40% - Lottie Moon
20% - Annie Armstrong
7% - Alabama Baptist Children's Home
7% - The Summit
7% - Sav-A-Life
7% - Kilpatrick Mission
7% - Myer-Mallory Alabama State offering
5% - Mission Conference (to fund next year's conference in December)

Use your current offering envelopes simply marking your gift by the "On Mission 1:8 Offering."  If you wish to give to just Lottie Moon or any of the above ministries, you may be writing their name and the amount on your envelope.

You may give throughout the month of December for our Mission Christmas Offering.

Remember:  Give your best Christmas gift to Jesus through the mission offering.

Then Sunday night we have our annual (and only) church-wide Christmas and Missions party beginning at 5:30 in the Large Fellowship Hall.  The church will provide ham and your bring vegetables and desserts for the meal.  Then the Ragains will be sharing more about their life in Ukraine and Christianity in Eastern Europe.  You will have opportunity to give your "On Mission 1:8" Offering Sunday night, as well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Week-after-week this great church moves to one emphasis to another, most of the time with equal value.

However, there are a few weeks that just jump out and we are headed to one of those weeks. This Sunday we being our annual mission emphasis with these elements:

*  Week of Prayer for International Missions
*  Mission Speakers this Sunday.  Joel and MaryEllen Ragains from New Albany, Indiana will be with us.  I will share more on Friday in this blog.
*  Sunday night is our annual and only church-wide Christmas party and mission emphasis.  The church will provide the ham and you are asked to bring vegetables and desserts for the 5:30 meeting.  The Ragains will be speaking, as well, providing another opportunity for you to get to know them better.
*  We being our On Mission 1:8 Christmas Offering.  This year we are giving through the On Mission 1:8 Offering - more about this on Friday, as well.

So delighted our Louisiana Mission team arrived home safely.  They will be sharing in the Wednesday, December 7 service at 6:10.

This Friday and Saturday is the Men's Retreat at CampToKnowHim.  It is FREE.  Don't miss this wonderful time of fellowship and challenge.  Activities begin at 2:00 Friday but you just come when you can.

There will be a SEC Championship Party at CampToKnowHim beginning at 1:00.  Everyone is invited - even if you did not get to attend the retreat.  Ladies and families are encouraged to come.

Sunday Night, December 11 - 6:00

"ADORE HIM" - An Evening of Christmas Worship

"Jingle Jam" - special Christmas event for ALL the family on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 6:10 in the auditorium presented by our Children's Ministry.

Sunday Night, December 18 - 5:00
Drop-In Lord's Supper

Sunday, December 25 - 10:15 Worship Service Only.  The service will only last 45 minutes ending by 11:00.

Sunday, January 1 - 9:00 Sunday School
10:15 - Worship
No Evening Activities January 1.

No Wednesday night services on Wednesday, December 21 and 28.

One last word...Chili Cookoff tonight at 5:00 with the winner getting a free ticket to the Nashville Main Event Men's Conference or a free ticket and hotel accommodations for the Johnny Hunt Men's Conference.  Men AND Women are invited to participate with your favorite Chili.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Parents: It’s Time to Wake Up About Pornography, Sexting, and Your Children By Randy Alcorn

While speaking about sexual purity at my church several years ago, I told parents that if they’re going to let their children have unrestricted Internet access in the privacy of their own rooms, through computers, tablets, phones, or any other device they might as well buy thousands of pornographic magazines and stack them in their children’s closets and say, “Don’t ever look at those.” It amounts to the same thing.
After my message, a sincere Christian mother came up to me. She was offended by my warning to parents not to allow their children to have unmonitored Internet access.
“I can’t believe you said that,” she began. “My son has Internet access in his room, and I trust him! He’s a good boy.”
I told her, “I was once a seventh grade boy. I’ll tell you right now, you think you’re honoring your son by trusting him, but you are setting him up for a fall. You could hand him a gun, and his life might turn out better than if you just hand him over to the Internet.”
If this strikes you as an overstatement, you simply do not understand the devastating effects of pornography. The great majority of children, especially boys but also girls, who are allowed access to pornography will view it, either inadvertently or purposefully, and many of those will become addicted to it, ruining their lives and in many cases ruining their future marriages.    
That pornography is “harmless” is a lie from the pit of Hell. Scripture says that Satan goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and sadly, we are losing our daughters and our sons.
For years, such predictions and warnings sounded like the overreactions of religious zealots. But recently an outpouring of information on the negative impact of pornography is available from mainstream researchers and secular sources. (Even GQ Magazine for men shared a piece in 2013 titled, “10 Reasons Why You Should Quit Watching Porn.”) Many researchers recognize, even from their non-Christian worldview, that children’s early exposure to addictive pornography and behavior such as sexting (taking and sharing provocative selfies) is harming them deeply.
The cover title for Time Magazine’s April 2016 issue was “PORN: Why young men who grew up with Internet Porn are becoming advocates for turning it off.” This lengthy, non-faith based article highlighted the real-life sexual problems that men who grew up with Internet porn are facing in relationships (like not being physically able to become aroused by a real encounter with a woman because of the way porn use has altered their brain’s chemistry/functionality).
The New York Times tweeted this tag line to a recent article: “The longer you wait to give your children a smartphone, the better.” Brian X. Chen writes about how increasingly younger kids are being impacted by pornography and sexting:
Ms. Weinberger, who wrote the smartphone and Internet safety book “The Boogeyman Exists: And He’s in Your Child’s Back Pocket,” said she had surveyed 70,000 children in the last 18 months and found that, on average, sexting began in the fifth grade, pornography consumption began when children turned 8, and pornography addiction began around age 11.
In an article for The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin cites research about the wide-spread practice of sexting:
A recent study of seven public high schools in East Texas, for example, found that 28 percent of sophomores and juniors had sent a naked picture of themselves by text or e-mail, and 31 percent had asked someone to send one. …boys and girls were equally likely to have sent a sext, but girls were much more likely to have been asked to—68 percent had been. 
…This year, researchers in Los Angeles published a study of middle-schoolers showing that those who sent sexts were 3.2 times more likely to be sexually active than those who didn’t. 
A police officer friend told me that hardly a week goes by when he doesn’t get a call from a distraught parent who has discovered nude pictures of their daughter are being sent all over the school or across the country because she posed for a friend, or took the picture herself. Those images can never be fully recalled, nor the shame erased from memory. 
Officer John Rasmussen, a school resource officer in my area, explained he often shares with families how the devastating effects of sexting and pornography knows no bounds.  “I’ve frequently found the youth involved come from believing families who have raised ‘good kids.’”
Christian parents would never have believed it if you had told them 25 years ago that one day most kids would be carrying around a little device that would allow them access to pornography and on which they could receive naked images sent by their classmates while the young person is doing homework, in bed, or sitting in church.
Hanna Rosin explains how Major Donald Lowe and his fellow officers at the Louisa County Sheriff's Office have talked to kids about the consequences of sexting:
Lowe’s team explained to both the kids pictured on Instagram and the ones with photos on their phones the serious legal consequences of their actions. Possessing or sending a nude photo of a minor—even if it’s a photo of yourself—can be prosecuted as a felony under state child-porn laws. He explained that 10 years down the road they might be looking for a job or trying to join the military, or sitting with their families at church, and the pictures could wash back up; someone who had the pictures might even try to blackmail them.
“Locally we see a blackmail tactic used time and again.  It usually starts with ‘send me just one pic’,” says Officer Rasmussen. “And that first picture may not be considered too provocative by most, but the kid is manipulated with shame and fear that someone will find out. Coercive requests follow, like, ‘Send me more or I’ll send this one out to your friends and family.’ This can very quickly progress to, ‘Now meet me for “_______” (sex act) or I’ll share all the photos.’”
I’m a grandparent to five boys, the oldest of them 12. Like many of you, I find this information, and the related statistics, chilling. (And remember, it’s not just boys who are looking at pornography; young girls are too. Nor are girls the only ones participating in sending inappropriate pictures.) The reality is, if you have children in grade school and older, even if they themselves aren’t exposed to or involved in these practices, some of their classmates certainly are, and as the years go on, more will be.
So what can concerned parents do?
1. Realize your responsibility to protect your children. If your child has a smartphone or has access to a phone, a tablet, online gaming console, or a computer, they are vulnerable. As a parent you might wonder, “Do I have the right to interfere? Isn’t that being nosey?” Your job is to interfere, and to know what is going on in your children’s lives, as well as what happens when they’re at friends’ houses and at school. You need to protect them, just as if you were standing next to a freeway and would feel an obligation to put your arms around them and say, “Stay off that freeway.”
You and your spouse need to decide what age is appropriate for your children to have their own phone, as well as the capabilities their phone has when do they do get one. (Some parents concerned about being able to safely reach their children have provided a phone that can only make calls and text certain numbers.)
2. Start the conversations about the dangers of pornography now. Given the ever-younger ages of kids affected, there’s a great advantage in talking to your kids early—probably much earlier than you might think. Several parents I respect have used and recommended the book Good Pictures, Bad Pictures by Kristen A. Jenson to talk with their children about the dangers of pornography in an age-appropriate format. (The book also provides positive, practical steps for kids when they are inadvertently exposed to inappropriate images.) Older teens could benefit from the many purity-related resources available from ministries.  (For instance, see my article Guidelines for Sexual Purity and Dannah Gresh’s Seven Secrets to Purity for Every Teen Girl.)
Realize too that the conversations shouldn’t be just one time, but ongoing. One mom of boys writes, “What I am coming to see is that my boys and I just have to have conversation after conversation after conversation about the topic and about how most of their friends are going to struggle with this and most of society is struggling with this.”
3. Establish clear guidelines in your family. Install a pornography-filtering and accountability-reporting program on computers, tablets, and smartphones (realizing it can’t screen out everything). See this article for various options. Establish, and enforce, rules in your home about keeping electronic devices, including phones, out of private rooms. (Some families have a “drop basket” or a “station” where everyone, including parents, deposits their phones when they come through the door.) Require that computers and televisions stay in high-traffic areas.
4. Talk to your children about the great rewards and happiness of purity, and the destruction and unhappiness of impurity. Talk about how good sex can be inside marriage. Explain how sex is one of the best things God has made, but it becomes the very worst—the most devastating—when it is taken out of its God-given context. Scripture, especially in Proverbs 5-7, provides a great basis to talk to kids about the dangers of impurity and lust. (Some parents have gone through my book The Purity Principle with their teens.)
This is a battle for our children, with their lives and futures at stake. May Christian parents answer the Lord’s call to protect their children, and train them in the joys of purity.

Article Sources

More Resources

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From the Shepherd's Grateful Heart...Wednesday, November 23

What enormous days of difficulty we are experiencing...school bus accident in Chattanooga, drought, the worst political season this generation has ever witnessed, cancer, divorce, hurt, protest, anger, disrespect, and the passing of loved ones.

So, what do we do as we approach Thanksgiving?

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;  His love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1 (repeated 118:1, 29)

My heart has been warmed and comforted by this verse this week.  NOTHING happening in my life or the life of our church, community or nation changes who God is.  He is good and His love endures forever.

Our main source of joy is not our health, our families or our nation.  It is our Lord!!!  And everything is well with Him and He can still fill our hurting, angry, disappointed hearts if we will "give thanks" instead of complaints.

It's time to thank the Lord.  He, alone, has sacrificed His Son for us; redeemed us by His blood and given us a hope transcendent of this world. We are His children and the sheep of His pasture.  I am somebody because of Him and deeply loved and valued because of Him.  His love will never run out and I can never out run his grace and mercy.

In Psalm 107, four times he says, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.."

Will you give thanks to God for who He is and what He has done.  If you will, your heart will be warmed, your spirit uplifted and hope return.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.


Remember, the church office closes today at noon and there are no services tonight as you prepare and enjoy Thanksgiving.

(There will not be a blog post this Friday).