Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"The Truth Project" continues tonight at 6:10 in the Auditorium for all our Adults with "The State: Whose Law?"

The youth are having a Celebration Fellowship tonight at 6:10 since this will be the last Wednesday night with Bro. Craig and Mrs. Melinda.

We are certainly saddened at the news of their leaving but also extremely excited for them to be following the Lord to Pastor full-time at Pisgah Baptist Church.  Their last Sunday will be April 2.

This Saturday morning is our Men's Sunrise Breakfast at the new location of Kelly's Kitchen at 6:00 a.m. Ben Coots is our speaker.

We kickoff our Easter Weekend services this Sunday.  Evangelist Jay Lowder from Wichita Falls, TX will be back with us preaching. The biggest and most pressing news is for our men.

We are having a Wild Game Supper and Hunting and Fishing Expo on Saturday, April 15.  Tickets are free to the public, but we are asking 100 men in our church to buy at least two tickets at $10 each - one for you and one for a non-churched man or young man.  The only purpose for the tickets is to help pay for the meal that night and to use the ticket to invite a man or young man who needs to hear the Gospel.

The Expo will be in the gym with a Duck/Turkey Call Competition at 5:00.  If you wish to bring a trophy, please contact Neil Phillips at 256-996-8334.

If you have wild game you wish to bring, contact Bubba Johnson at 256-717-5282.  You are asked to cook the wild game yourself and bring it ready to eat.

The meal and program starts at 6 in the Fellowship Hall.  The Jessie Daniel Band will be playing.

Free door prizes ($250 Gift card to Cabela's) will be given away at 7:15.  You do have to be present to win.

Friday night is a big Student Night with Jay and then Jay will be preaching on Easter Sunday morning.

Due to Spring Break next week, there will be no Wednesday night services here at the church.  So many will be away so enjoy your time.


Monday, March 20, 2017

A Crucified Man Can Only Face Forward by Regi Campbell


Everybody has a past. Things we would do different if given the chance. Screw-ups that hurt ourselves and others. We bear the wounds of parents who didn’t love us well, teachers who vilified us, coaches who belittled us, bosses who disrespected us, customers who fired us, and friends who betrayed us. The past can be tough.

Some say wisdom comes with experience, but that’s not always true. Wisdom comes from evaluated experience. Wise people learn from their experiences and the experiences of others. They take responsibility, learn and get better. Fools blame others, fail to learn and become bitter.

Agathon said, “Even God cannot change the past.” He was right. What's done is done. While God can’t change the past, He can use it if we’ll let Him. Look at how the writers of the Old Testament use the experiences of the children of Israel to show us God’s nature, His grace and His truth. Look at how the writers of the New Testament use the life of Jesus, the Apostles and the early church to inform us of the nature of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

As we walk through life, we face similar circumstances over and over. Each time, we get a chance to respond differently. The question is will we? Will we follow the ‘street definition’ of insanity . . . “to act the same way but expect a different result”? Or will we learn from the past, make better decisions and grow in wisdom?

Every year, I watch my mentees deal with the guilt they associate with their pasts. For them and for most of us, it’s just so hard to grasp that God’s forgiveness separates us from our past sin “as far as the east is from the west.” ‘East’ and ‘west’ aren’t locations, they’re directions. When God forgives the sins of our past, He removes them and keeps removing them from us. Out of gratitude, our response is to move in the opposite direction from those sins as well as the temptations and ‘triggers’ that can lead us into them again. God’s forgiveness cost Him His priceless Son’s life. Far be it from me to belittle that gift by dwelling on past sins God has already forgiven and forgotten.

Owning your past, taking personal responsibility, gratefully receiving God’s forgiveness (and His correction), gaining wisdom by evaluating the past and learning from it? Yes. Replaying the tape of those sins and all their consequences? No.

A cool line in a song I heard last week . . . “You can’t steer a boat by looking at the wake.”

Another good line I heard a speaker say recently . . . “A crucified man can only look forward.”

Let go of the past and move forward in gratitude for all that God has done for you.

Scripture: He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Parents, quit caring more about the White House than your own house - by Evangelist Jay Lowder (as published on Fox News)

The opinions of our nation’s new commander in chief are as varied as DNA. News of President Donald Trump’s every move can be discovered 24/7. Somewhere between the celebratory blowing of horns and warning sirens, it is easy to get caught up in what’s happening at the White House instead of in our own home.
Right now in America our greatest strength and weakness is the family unit. What happens in the American cornerstone, our house, will be the foremost factor that determines our nation’s ascent or decline.
Divorce rates hover around 50 percent. The United States pornography industry brings in more money than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined and has infiltrated the institution of marriage, morality and adolescent minds. Children raised in single-parent homes are on the rise. Many of our inner cities are becoming the dens of crime due to lack of discipline and leadership from parents. Absentee fathers are the norm. Disregard for law and public servants is not only commonplace but also celebrated. Racism, on both sides of the fence, has become rampant. The murder of churchgoers, police officers, law-abiding civilians, people of color and children at school is so common it is no longer shocking.
Further, vitriolic rhetoric toward others because their opinion or convictions stemming from a different faith, culture, orientation or religion fills our vocabulary and false characterizations such as labeling rioters as protesters, terrorists as militants, looters as activists or all Christians as bigots and all Muslims as extremists misconstrue truth.
The taproots of these destructive mores are the breakdown of the family, and their cure lies not in the White House but in our own house. It is time we first begin sweeping around our own front door before trying to sweep around the one in D.C. Looking outward is always easier than looking inward and assessing blame is always easier than accepting it. Does Washington need an overhaul and should we work to facilitate it? Yes. However, we have the ability and first responsibility to start that change in our own four walls. It is time to take the first, long hard look at the man in the mirror.
I’m not up to par with White House decorum, but I can think of a few taught behaviors we would all do well to initiate in our own house.
Start with respect. We need to re-learn the art of honoring others’ opinions when they don’t align with our own. Sometimes this requires us to esteem someone’s authoritative position even when it is difficult to embrace his or her reasoning. One of the reasons for the proliferation of cyber bulling among teens – which often leads to suicide – is younger generations have never been taught how and why to respect others. If we taught this lost art in our homes, we could do away with the majority of racial, gender, political and social injustice we want the government to cure.
Reinforce the concept of listening. Listening is much more than hearing. It is to give attention, to act upon and to intently make a positive effort to take notice of someone’s words. For too long we as Americans have been so busy thinking of a response or rebuttal that we fail to hear the legitimacy of others’ thoughts. How much of the conflict between races, political parties and public servants in their communities could be solved if both sides would amicably sit down across from one another and compassionately hear the other’s concerns?
Demonstrate the skill of communication. As Americans we are good at talking but not communicating. Communication requires respect, empathy and humility. In today’s society, we do much of this through non face-to-face contact via text, social media and e-mail. Much is lost in translation. The struggle of today’s teenager to resolve conflict is in large part due to their lack of this skill to effectively communicate. When our homes are filled with respectful dialogue, we are then ready to be heard in the public square.
Be a place of love. Love is the greatest gift one can receive or give. It is not based on performance, commonality or reciprocity. It embraces everyone regardless of appearance, persuasions, gender, sexuality, religion or race. In a time when our televisions and social media accounts are filled with anger, violence and hate, we must ensure that the prevailing characteristic of our home – the only component that makes life worth living – is love.
I will continue to vote; I will not be silent. I will strive for reform, and I will pray for whoever is president regardless of whether or not he or she received my vote. But, I will spend less time pontificating about leaders that are far away and spend more time developing the leaders who sit at my own table. And above all, I will not forget the greatest ability I posses to influence this great nation lies not in the White House but my own house.

Jay Lowder is a full-time evangelist and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of “Midnight in Aisle 7: Sometimes God Introduces Himself Outside the Church Walls.” Follow him on Twitter at @jaylowder or @jlhministries.

Monday, March 13, 2017

8 Things North American Believers Can Learn from Believers around the World by Chuck Lawless

In my various roles, I’ve been privileged to travel the world, talk to global brothers and sisters in Christ, and learn from them. I may be the professor, but they always teach me. Here are some things we North American Christians can learn from them:
  1. The Bible is precious. We who have multiple copies of the scriptures miss this point. It would do all of us good to spend time with a believer who stays up all night to hear and read the Word of God because he doesn’t have his own copy. 
  2. Holiness matters. I’ve been with some believers around the world who lean toward legalism, but seldom have I been with any who are as lax about sin as North Americans tend to be. Global believers often struggle with our brand of non-life changing Christianity.
  3. Worship is more than head-centered. Every culture is different, but I love worshiping with believers who give themselves fully to worship. From the African who jumps when he worships to the Ukrainian who sings with all his might, believers around the world challenge my often- too stoic approach to worship.
  4. Prayer makes a difference. I once stood for two hours praying non-stop with believers in a war-torn part of the world, and they were just getting started. When Christ is genuinely your hope and peace, you understand better the necessity and the value of prayer.
  5. Persecution is real. For many believers, persecution is not just somebody else’s story on a sheet of paper. It’s their story. No article or website can speak the volumes that a believer who’s been faithful under persecution can.
  6. Church membership means something. I’ve talked with local church leaders around the globe who shepherd large networks, and they can tell you much of the spiritual state of each believer. They take seriously the need for accountability and growth among believers.
  7. North American Christianity is not the center of the Christian world. We tend to think we are, simply because our world revolves around us. Many believing groups around the world, though, have longer histories, more followers, and much more to teach us.
  8. Heaven will be really sweet. I already knew that, but thinking about the peoples of the world gathering around the throne is that much more powerful after meeting many of those folks. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, March 10, 2017

Roxanne and I are looking forward to be back at Rainsville First this Sunday after some time of rest.  Thank you for the time away.

We have been praying through the Prayer Guide for our Week of Prayer for the North American Mission Board. We will have a time of prayer Sunday morning for our North American missions.  

This is also a time of giving to missions, as well. 
Let me remind you we are focusing on our unified missions' giving through our On Mission 1:8 giving.  Twenty percent of everything you give through this offering year-round goes to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

Learn more at anniearmstrong.com and namb.net. 

If you are not giving on a regular basis (monthly, weekly) then use this time to give a one-time mission offering.  However, be aware you may give year-round and its just as effective.

This Saturday our Upward Basketball and Cheerleading season ends and Sunday night we have our Awards program.  I am so grateful for every coach, concession stand server, greeter, devotional leader, referee, clock keeper, photographer and clean up crew.  And especially thankful to Whitney Wigley for her leadership and our Upward Ministry Team (Gary Blevins, Donald Coots, Drew Hogsed, Greg Wigley, and Whitney Wigley).  What a great ministry and what a great church.


So let me remind you....it is never the program that makes something great.  It is ALWAYS the people.  And YOU at Rainsville First Family are the best.  Blessings to you.

Melvin Adams, a former Harlem Globetrotter, will be our speaker.  Learn more here.

This Sunday morning I will be preaching from Luke 5 on "The 'Call' to Follow Christ."  Can't wait.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Logistics of Transportation for the President

I enjoyed watching this video about transporting the President.  Since I love planes and am thrilled about learning about logistics, this video was very entertaining.  Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

'The Shack' & the missing art of evangelical discernment by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

(This first appeared February 15, 2010)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young's "The Shack" has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic.
According to Young, the book was originally written for his own children. In essence, it can be described as a narrative theodicy -- an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story. In this story, the main character is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his 7-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man's daughter had been murdered.
In the shack, "Mack" meets the divine Trinity as "Papa," an African-American woman; Jesus, a Jewish carpenter; and "Sarayu," an Asian woman who is revealed to be the Holy Spirit. The book is mainly a series of dialogues between Mack, Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu. Those conversations reveal God to be very different than the God of the Bible. "Papa" is absolutely non-judgmental, and seems most determined to affirm that all humanity is already redeemed.
The theology of The Shack is not incidental to the story. Indeed, at most points the narrative seems mainly to serve as a structure for the dialogues. And the dialogues reveal a theology that is unconventional at best, and undoubtedly heretical in certain respects.
While the literary device of an unconventional "trinity" of divine persons is itself sub-biblical and dangerous, the theological explanations are worse. "Papa" tells Mack of the time when the three persons of the Trinity "spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God." Nowhere in the Bible is the Father or the Spirit described as taking on human existence. The Christology of the book is likewise confused. "Papa" tells Mack that, though Jesus is fully God, "he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything. He has only lived out of his relationship with me, living in the very same manner that I desire to be in relationship with every human being." When Jesus healed the blind, "He did so only as a dependent, limited human being trusting in my life and power to be at work within him and through him. Jesus, as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone."
While there is ample theological confusion to unpack there, suffice it to say that the Christian church has struggled for centuries to come to a faithful understanding of the Trinity in order to avoid just this kind of confusion -- understanding that the Christian faith is itself at stake.
Jesus tells Mack that He is "the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu." Not the only way, but merely the best way.
In another chapter, "Papa" corrects Mack's theology by asserting, "I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it." Without doubt, God's joy is in the atonement accomplished by the Son. Nevertheless, the Bible consistently reveals God to be the holy and righteous Judge, who will indeed punish sinners. The idea that sin is merely "its own punishment" fits the Eastern concept of karma, but not the Christian Gospel.
The relationship of the Father to the Son, revealed in a text like John 17, is rejected in favor of an absolute equality of authority among the persons of the Trinity. "Papa" explains that "we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity." In one of the most bizarre paragraphs of the book, Jesus tells Mack: "Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way."
The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being -- or to all human beings -- is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion of the Trinity submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.
The most controversial aspects of The Shack's message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: "Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don't vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions." Jesus adds, "I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved."
Mack then asks the obvious question -- do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, "Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you."
Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young's meaning. "Papa" chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, "The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?" "Papa" responds, "The whole world, Mack."
Put together, all this implies something very close to the doctrine of reconciliation proposed by Karl Barth. And, even as Young's collaborator Wayne Jacobson has lamented the "self-appointed doctrine police" who have charged the book with teaching ultimate reconciliation, he acknowledges that the first editions of the manuscript were unduly influenced by Young's "partiality at the time" to ultimate reconciliation -- the belief that the cross and resurrection of Christ accomplished then and there a unilateral reconciliation of all sinners (and even all creation) to God.
James B. DeYoung of Western Theological Seminary, a New Testament scholar who has known William Young for years, documents Young's embrace of a form of "Christian universalism." The Shack, he concludes, "rests on the foundation of universal reconciliation."
Even as Wayne Jacobson and others complain of those who identify heresy within The Shack, the fact is that the Christian church has explicitly identified these teachings as just that -- heresy. The obvious question is this: How is it that so many evangelical Christians seem to be drawn not only to this story, but to the theology presented in the narrative -- a theology at so many points in conflict with evangelical convictions?
Evangelical observers have not been alone in asking this question. Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor Timothy Beal of Case Western University argues that the popularity of The Shack suggests that evangelicals might be shifting their theology. He cites the "nonbiblical metaphorical models of God" in the book, as well as its "nonhierarchical" model of the Trinity and, most importantly, "its theology of universal salvation."
Beal asserts that none of this theology is part of "mainstream evangelical theology," then explains: "In fact, all three are rooted in liberal and radical academic theological discourse from the 1970s and 80s -- work that has profoundly influenced contemporary feminist and liberation theology but, until now, had very little impact on the theological imaginations of nonacademics, especially within the religious mainstream."
He then asks: "What are these progressive theological ideas doing in this evangelical pulp-fiction phenomenon?" He answers: "Unbeknownst to most of us, they have been present on the liberal margins of evangelical thought for decades." Now, he explains, The Shack has introduced and popularized these liberal concepts even among mainstream evangelicals.
Timothy Beal cannot be dismissed as a conservative "heresy-hunter." He is thrilled that these "progressive theological ideas" are now "trickling into popular culture by way of The Shack."
Similarly, writing at Books & Culture, Katherine Jeffrey concludes that The Shack "offers a postmodern, post-biblical theodicy." While her main concern is the book's place "in a Christian literary landscape," she cannot avoid dealing with its theological message.
In evaluating the book, it must be kept in mind that The Shack is a work of fiction. But it is also a sustained theological argument, and this simply cannot be denied. Any number of notable novels and works of literature have contained aberrant theology, and even heresy. The crucial question is whether the aberrant doctrines are features of the story or the message of the work. When it comes to The Shack, the really troubling fact is that so many readers are drawn to the theological message of the book, and fail to see how it conflicts with the Bible at so many crucial points.
All this reveals a disastrous failure of evangelical discernment. It is hard not to conclude that theological discernment is now a lost art among American evangelicals -- and this loss can only lead to theological catastrophe.
The answer is not to ban The Shack or yank it out of the hands of readers. We need not fear books -- we must be ready to answer them. We desperately need a theological recovery that can only come from practicing biblical discernment. This will require us to identify the doctrinal dangers of The Shack, to be sure. But our real task is to reacquaint evangelicals with the Bible's teachings on these very questions and to foster a doctrinal rearmament of Christian believers.
The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity. An assessment like that offered by Timothy Beal is telling. The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us -- a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

R. Albert Mohler. Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This column first appeared at AlbertMohler.com. Mohler discussed The Shack on his radio program at http://www.albertmohler.com/2008/05/26/a-look-at-the-shack-2. Other resources:
Katherine Jeffrey, "'I Am Not Who You Think I Am' -- Situating The Shack in a Christian Literary Landscape," Books & Culture (January/February 2010), pages 33-34. Online at http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2010/janfeb/iamnotwhoyouthinkiam.html
Tim Challies, "A Reader's Review of The Shack," http://www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/the-shack-by-william-p-young.php
James B. DeYoung, "Book Review: The Shack by William Paul Young." (Online at http://theshackreview.com/content/TheShackReview2Page.pdf)
Wayne Jacobson, "Is The Shack Heresy?." Online at http://www.windblownmedia.com/about-wbm/is-the-shack-heresy.html)