Wednesday, April 26, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, April 28, 2017

This Sunday I continue my preaching through the Gospel of Luke as we enter chapter 6 (verses 1-11) with a message "Jesus is a Seven-Day Lord."

The backdrop of this message is two things (letting his disciples eat grain and healing a man) Jesus does on the Sabbath.

I don't have time this Sunday to share all of this, so let me give you some background material for this Sunday.

There are three things most sacred to the Jews: The Temple, The Law and The Sabbath.

In the Law, God said "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God...." Exodus 20: 8-11

The Ten Commandments over the years became a list of 613 Laws you were to keep in addition to the clear teaching of Scripture.

By the time of Jesus, the external keeping of the law was more important and valued than the motivation of the heart.

*  You had to sleep on planks and put thorns in your clothes lest you enjoy life and forget the laws of God.
*  You would read the Ten Commandments without moving your eyes, hands or feet so others would see your dedication to the law of God to the decree you would not even more your eyeballs to be distracted from God's law.

On the Sabbath day,
*  You could ride a donkey, but you could not switch him to make him go faster because that would cause both him and you to work.
*  You would have to let a house burn on the Sabbath because putting it out would be work and there was no threat of the lose of life - just property.
*  You could not drag a stick on the ground because that would be plowing.
*  A woman could not look in the mirror lest she see a gray hair and pull it resulting in shearing.
*  There were questions if you could eat an egg laid on the Sabbath.

As you can see, the concept of breaking the Law of God had become totally external and never dealt with the inward part of man - the heart.

Keeping the Laws of God was more about how it looked to others than bringing glory to God or benefiting man.  The keeping of the Law became an "end to itself."

It is in the back drop Jesus gives his disciples permission to eat grain on the Sabbath and heals a man on the Sabbath.  Then, Luke gives us his version of Jesus' teaching the Sermon on the Mount where the heart is the issue.  We will begin teaching Luke 6: 20-49 Wednesday night going on through the summer.

Sunday night the message is "The Setting of the Course by Jesus" based on Luke 6: 12-16.

I love being the preacher at Rainsville First Baptist Church.  See you Sunday with a Bible under your arm and a heart ready to hear.

From the Shepherd's Heart....Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sadly, tonight is our last night of "The Truth Project" for the adults.  We are watching the teaching "Community and Involvement:  God Cares, Do I?"  This has been a powerful tool to better equip us in how Truth intersects our every-day life.

Thank you for allowing me to present these teachings to you.  I went to a conference several years ago to be able to purchase these DVDs and used them at CrossRoads.

If you missed any of the teachings, you may borrow the DVD to watch them.  Also, remember I do have some "notes" Joey Hall found on the internet.  If you wish to have them, write me an email.

The Youth have two more nights of the teaching.  Gary Blevins is teaching tonight and then Tonya Hiett next week.

Beginning May 3, I will be teaching from Luke 6.

Pray for me next Monday night (5-1) as I preach at Bellevue Baptist Church in Gadsden where Bro. Roger Graham is pastor.

Pray for our ladies as they leave Friday for "Women of Joy."  46 are going this year and as it has been in the past, I'm sure it will be another wonderful time of refreshment and joy.  Pray for their safety in travel and while there plus for God to open their hearts to wonderful teaching and renewed joy.

Pray for "Feed My Starving Children" this Saturday at the DeKalb County Schools Coliseum.  I'm delighted our church has made a contribution to the cause and I pray you will be involved either by giving or serving or both.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Rainsville First Baptist, we will have a "New Member Class" on Sunday, May 7 with lunch and then a session until about 2:00.  You may sign up on the back on the Connect Card on Sunday, call the church office, or write us an email.  Child care is provided but it must be in advance.

Vacation Bible School is June 11-15 and you responded well on the first day of signups.  If you did not sign up this past Sunday, there is a sign up sheet in the Foyer or you may contact Whitney Traylor directly.

Our last mission trip to Mobile is July 1-8.  We have the usual opportunities of service and would love for you to pray about going.

All the staff goes and it is a highlight of Rainsville First's year.

For more information or answers to questions, contact Keith Beatty or Greg Wigley.

Continue to pray for the Personnel Team and myself as we seek God's choice for our next Student Pastor.

If you know of anyone that would like to submit a resume for this part-time (bi-vocational) ministerial position, have them send the resume to Rainsville First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 585, Rainsville, AL 35986 (256-638-3141) or email it to me directly or drop it by the church office.  Deadline to receive resumes is May 31.

Love you and thank God for you.  Looking forward to seeing you tonight at 6:10.


Monday, April 24, 2017

What You Never Know You Miss By Skipping Sunday Morning by Carey Nieuwhof

Today’s post is a guest post by my executive assistant, Sarah Piercy, who in addition to working with me for the last 8 years, is a wife and young mom. She wrote this piece for our church blog, and, well, it was too compelling not to share it with you here. In particular, I love point 3. Never heard that metaphor before, and it’s so true in my view. Hope it helps!
I thought missing a Sunday morning service wasn’t a big deal.
I have worked at Connexus Church for 8 years and would only miss a Sunday because I was away on vacation.  Quite honestly, I didn’t think missing a Sunday was a big deal. It’s not a sin. It’s not earth-shattering. No one notices (or do they?).  Right?Then I had a baby and went on maternity leave.  
And I started to participate in our church community like most people do.
And everything changed.
Because, when I miss a Sunday service, I miss way more than I ever thought.
From birthday parties to a sick baby, a variety of reasons had kept me from participating on Sunday mornings. I would watch online. And online is great to keep me connected when I can’t be there in person. Or to share with friends and neighbors who are curious about church but not ready to come. So easy!
But – given the choice – attending on Sunday morning trumps all else. Every time.
When I skip Sunday morning…

1. I Miss Uninterrupted Time to Listen for God’s Wisdom 

Sunday’s practical teaching translates into godly wisdom that I can apply daily life – it is so valuable.

Sure, you can hear great teaching in a variety of ways. But listening online is different than listening in the service.

I don’t know about you, but when I listen at home I have a long to-do list. A child that loves attention. A phone that rings. Floors to sweep. Laundry to fold. Neighbors’ dogs barking. I almost never absorb the message in the same way as I do when physically present on Sunday.
When I’m in the service, I have uninterrupted time. Time to focus on what God is teaching me and reflect on how He wants me to grow. My child is being cared for, my phone is on silent, and there are no chores waiting for me.
I can focus. I can engage my heart and mind.
Listening online is different than listening in the service. Online, you’re often distracted.
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2. I Miss the Value of Worshiping God through Music with Others

This one is interesting.  And might even be surprising to you.
There’s something intangible that happens when we worship God – out loud – with hundreds of people who share faith in Jesus.
Sundays are an irreplaceable opportunity to take a step back from the busy day-to-day and directly praise the God that loves me and is incredibly worthy of my worship.
Music roots my heart and mind in the truth of who God is. It remembers and celebrates powerful scripture. It leads me to humble myself before God’s majesty in a way that doesn’t always happen when music playing in the car or in the background while I do the dishes.
Worshiping God through music on Sunday’s – with hundreds of people – grounds and fuels my faith.
It inspires me to keep worshiping, keep believing, keep serving, keep loving.
There’s something intangible that happens when we worship God—out loud.
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3. I Miss the Power and Movement of the Church

The Church has a mission and purpose.  And every believer is part of it.  We get to spread the amazing news that Jesus Christ loves you, died to forgive you, and he is alive, bringing new life to all who believe in him. What an incredible message to sit on.
We can be a Christian and not actively participate in the local Church.  Our salvation is not dependent on that. It’s dependent on Jesus.
But there’s more at stake than that…
Imagine this:
Your life is a babbling brook. It twists and turns and bubbles and splashes. It’s beautiful.  But has little strength.
But, what happens when you cross paths with another brook. And another. And another?
Something bigger starts to happen. Something one babbling brook can’t do on its own.
Momentum happens.
Then power happens.
Then Niagara falls happens! (Note: did you know Niagara falls generates enough energy to power almost 4 million homes? No babbling brook does that.)
In the same way, 100s (or 1000s) of people moving in the same God-given direction is POWERFUL.  And it doesn’t happen when we are disengaged.
Moving in the same God-given direction is POWERFUL. It doesn’t happen when we are disengaged.
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When I miss Sunday mornings, I miss how God is moving our church community to action.
When I miss the host’s welcome, connecting opportunities and the stories of God at work, I miss getting to be part of it because I don’t know how.
I don’t want to miss being part of the power and movement of God’s Church.
Plus, if I’m not there, then how can I bring anyone with me?
So – I do everything I can to attend a Sunday morning service.
Because when I miss a Sunday, I miss way more than I ever thought.
Will you make a commitment to Sunday morning’s with me, too?
When you miss a Sunday, you miss more than you ever thought.
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Want to hear more thoughts from Sarah? She and her husband Justin recently launched a brand new blog: United & Untied.  

Any Other Thoughts?

So…that’s Sarah’s perspective.
Any other things you miss when you miss church? I would add that of all the people who suffer, I believe the kids are affected most. Here’s why.
Finally, in this post, I outline 10 reasons why infrequent church attendance is becoming more frequent even among Christians.
I’m thrilled to Sarah and many others connect regularly on a Sunday morning. There’s something powerful (even unstoppable) about the church when it gathers.
What would you add to this list?
Scroll down and leave a comment.

Friday, April 21, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart... Friday, April 21, 2017

I am anxious to return to the pulpit this Sunday and I get to both Sunday morning and evening.

As we continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke, I must admit I did not expect to be this slow through this particular section dealing with "The Call to Follow Christ."  As we are seeing, there are some powerful moments concerning discipleship in Luke.  But as I dig deeper and see Luke 5: 27-32 with the call of Levi and the first mention of the word "disciples" (verse 30), how can I pass over it?

So, this Sunday I want to deal with the calling of Levi under the title "The Scandal of Grace" from Luke 5: 27-32.  The word “scandal”is defined as an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.  When Jesus called Levi to follow Him, it was scandalous.

Halle Huber shared this song that you might enjoy called "The Scandal of Grace."

Then this Sunday night we will deal with Luke 5: 33-39 concerning "Containing New Wine."  This idea of following Jesus is new - so how do we contain this "new wine?"  We must be converted - our old heart won't contain this new wine.  And we must remain pliable - fully oiled - to continue drinking of this new wine.

In fact, after a brief spiritual and study retreat, I am decided to slow down and deal more extensively with the theme of discipleship all the way through the summer and to add the great teaching chapter ("The Sermon on the Mount" in Luke) to my teaching plan for Wednesday nights beginning May 3.

I am honored to be your preacher and look forward to Sunday in Luke 5.  Pray for me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What a glorious Easter weekend the precious Lord gave us at Rainsville First.  God used Evangelist Jay Lowder in a powerful way with three messages.

My heart is filled with gratitude for all who served so graciously to make the weekend so powerful.  A weekend like this does not just happen.  I want to thank first our wonderful staff - Keith, Whitney, Craig (as he was in the planning stages of this), Virginia, Garry and Tom.  Our precious staff went far beyond the normal call of daily ministry to see this weekend become a reality.

Then we had so many (I will miss someone if I name them all) who served through outreach, registering people, counseling, cooking, planning, childcare, greeting and serving in so many other tangible ways.  Thanks to each one of you.

Church - I thank you for all you have done.  Thank you for your generous offering to Jay's ministry.  I am honored to serve alongside of you seeking to reach this community.

So many have been touched and changed.  Even this morning (Tuesday) I am still hearing testimonies of those who God touched this weekend.  Our hearts have burned within us and to God alone be the glory.

We continue "The Truth Project" tonight at 6:10 in the auditorium with Lesson #11 on "Labor:  Created to Create."  Also, the youth will continue "The Truth Project" tonight with Isaac Mays teaching tonight for the youth.

Next Wednesday is the last night of the Truth Project for the adults.  The youth are 2-3 weeks behind the adults.

For the second year we are hosting "Secret Church" with David Platt this Friday beginning at 5:30.  The topic "Scripture and Authority in the Age of Skepticism" is just a timely topic for all of us.

There is no registration required and no cost. Just come and bring finger foods, snacks and drinks for the long night of teaching.  It does not end until about 11:30 or midnight.

We are having a New Member class on Sunday, May 7 following the morning service.  We will have lunch and then have our class until about 2:00 p.m.  You may register by emailing me here or signing up any Sunday through the back of the "Connect card."  If you need childcare (for those under grade 6), let us know.

In fact, lunch that day will be a church-wide mission fundraiser for those going to Nicaragua.

Monday, April 17, 2017


My mother was the youngest of fourteen children growing up on a farm in the first part of the last century. The old home place burned down when she was a girl. It was a typical Southern house divided into a boys’ room, a girls’ room, a kitchen (they ate in the open breezeway during the summer), and the parents’ room. A porch surrounded the entire home.
“Mom and Dad’s” room was the gathering place at night. The fireplace blazed with what they called a “push ’em back” fire, arranged to throw out the most heat possible. Everybody sat and talked. Besides eating peanuts and throwing the shells into the fire, or maybe sharpening a knife or darning a sock, that’s all that happened. They talked and talked and talked until they could not keep their eyes open. Then the kids ran across the open breezeway into their rooms (or perhaps to the outhouse first) and into bed.
These relatives, most of them dead now, treasured their growing up. It wasn’t because they had much, or had it easy. They were dirt farmers during the depression, and they sweated much. But they loved it all. Why? Because of the beauty of relationships built on mounds of talk. They knew how to do it.
If someone came from another farm down the road they were there to “visit.” This meant that they talked. While the family worked the garden, they talked. While the men plowed and mended fences and threw out the hay, or harvested the corn, they talked. And when the family sat around the long table for meals, they used their mouths for more than eating. They talked some more.
I believe I could say accurately that the main occupation of the house was talk. Next was work, but first was talk.
And, throughout the years, when family reunion time came, the relatives gathered for a conversation feast—”catching up” on all the news, reminiscing and laughing (uproarious laughing), discovering what the kids were doing now, looking over the new people entering into the family by marriage. Nobody turned on a TV (Who would even think of it?). Nobody turned on a radio, or a “record player.” Never. They were there for talk—in mega-doses. And when they had to leave, it was with reluctance.
It seems almost inconceivable to believe that there was life before television. As good as the medium is for some things, it is an instrument of death to conversation in most families. Add computers, a personal CD player, and speed-eating and we’ve successfully killed off the last remnants of conversation in most families. Frankly, most families have no meaningful conversation at all. Days and weeks pass, if not months and years, without the skimpiest morsel of a good conversation. When I think about this, I almost weep for the magnitude of the loss. A mudslide of media has pushed our families into a cold ravine. We exist together for as long as we can make it, but we don’t know each other. Without face-to-face communication, the home has become an electronic desert.
But interestingly, with the demise of our conversation, there is no diminishing of our desire. We still long for meaningful relationships. Here is my suggestion:
Take a total break from electronic media as a family for at least two months (just eight weeks of your entire life!), or better yet, six months (OK, you can check the email after the kids are in bed). Read a great book together, play together, take walks and go to the park, eat outside, drive into the countryside (ever heard of that?), sit down and eat a real meal together with everyone helping to clean up, invite friends over to “visit,” do a project together, pull all the chairs up close to the fire, roast wieners in the fireplace, drink lots of tea or hot chocolate, pray together, plant a garden, sing around the piano or with the guitar, have your own Friday night retreat, or just sit down . . . together.
It is only in our age that talk has come on such bad times. God made us to communicate, and people have done so much of it throughout history that the Bible does not address the lack of it. But it cannot be assumed any longer. TV is doing all the talking, and we are dying inside. I don’t doubt that you long for something better, but sadly, few will ever do anything to accomplish it.
Oh yes, here’s one more idea. In your next reunion, pull all the TVs into one room facing each other, and force them to listen to each other. Then find a real person and . . . talk.
“A word spoken in due season, how good it is!” Proverbs 15:23
Copyright © 2004 Jim Elliff.
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form. All other uses require written permission.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

"Gone" by Teddy Huffman and the Gems

On this Easter week, this is one of my all time favorite "resurrection" songs.  I love the singing of Teddy Huffman and the Gems, but I also love this song penned by Eldridge Fox.  This recording was in 1978.  Just a little further personal note, I always wanted to have an Easter Sunday where I was pastor and have the Gems sing this song.  Enjoy it...He's "Gone."