From Rick's Desk
Many times history turns on seemingly insignificant decisions. In hindsight, these decisions evolve into determination, which eventually becomes resolve. Less than a year ago, St. Andrew Baptist Church made a decision that we pray will grow into a resolve to follow God that strengthens our entire church.
St. Andrew Baptist Church, led by the Holy Spirit, voted unanimously to form a building team to develop a plan to accomplish several things. Update the Worship Center including renovations to the Ladies’ and Men’s Restrooms, develop space now used for staff offices into new Senior Adult classroom space, develop a gathering space for worshippers before and after services and create a new and updated exterior entrance appearance to the Worship Center. There are a number of other parts included in the charge to the building team from the church, however, these things are the primary parts of the puzzle that will allow us to accomplish the other items.
The decision made by the church was affirmed in a recent Quarterly Church Business Meeting when a recommendation to enter into a contract with COSCO & ASSOCIATES, Inc. was approved. The Building 4 Generations To Come Building Team has a meeting scheduled later this month to begin the process of diligently working to accomplish as many of the directives of the church as we can as quickly and efficiently as possible with COSCO, our design/build partner.
Recent building projects have improved spaces for our preschoolers, children and youth. Now, it is time that we meet some pressing needs of our senior adults. The good news is that as we address the needs of our senior adults, we will also provide more space for our younger and middle aged adults. The decision to develop a plan to address these needs began by the church less than a year ago, is progressing even though you haven’t seen a nail or heard a hammer on our property. The B4GTC Building Team has been meeting and working in preparation of bringing a design/build partner on board. The team developed a Scope of Work from the charge of the church and began other preliminary tasks in preparation for the “next steps.”
In coming days, I will be working to keep you updated on the process that will move your decision towards a firm determination to move ahead with the next steps. Eventually our determination will grow into a strong resolve to move forward with the plans that we feel God has laid on our hearts so that we might reach future generations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
B4GTC Building Team member Terry Morris reminded me of a fitting scripture used by Dr. Randall Perry during the 100th anniversary of St. Andrew Baptist Church. Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25. Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. How appropriate that God led him to verses that describe ways that empower us to Exalt Christ, Meet Needs, and Reach The World.
The B4GTC Building Team covets your prayers as they meet with COSCO in the coming days. Would you pray that God will give us wisdom, discernment, vision, strength, endurance and unity? Danny Pate, Team leader, reminds us that Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
Building Team Members are: Danny Pate, Team Leader;
Timothy Barnard; Bethany Boggs; Lauren Hahn; Bruce Kuhnel; Terry Morris; John Skaggs; Christy Wortman; Dr. Michael Claunch, and Bro. Rick Mitchell.
Building 4 Generations to Come
Building 4 Generations to Come is more than a name of a building project. Building 4 Generations to Come is also a mindset to helps us move forward. We have been blessed in this season with great leaders who began leading and serving in the 1950’s and 60’s. Those leaders have been instrumental in our growth by building a sure foundation on the Lord Jesus Christ that has prepared us for this time. Our leaders have provided the consistency that allowed us to weather tough and turbulent times and we are grateful for that legacy we benefit from today. These heroes of the faith have been leaders spiritually, as well as, financially. Some of these leaders have graduated to heaven while many remain leading and serving to this day! With that in mind, how is Building 4 Generations to Come a mindset that enables us to move forward?
All across the ages God has used men and women as His chosen instruments to join with Him in His work. He has elected to use men and women with warts, blemishes and imperfections so that His power might be recognized in His weak but obedient servants that have chosen to follow Him. Building 4 Generations to Come reminds us that God is looking for willing and obedient servants today that desire to show forth His power in their weakness. God is looking for men and women in all generations to be faithful, obedient servants that will join Him in His work. God is looking for men and women with this mindset that He might use them as His special instruments of grace to a world that needs to hear of His great love.
Building 4 Generations to Come is the name of our building project, however, it is so much more than that. I’m asking that you seek the Lord to see how you can become more faithful and obedient to Christ. I am. I’m hopeful that God will choose to use me in the same manner in which He has used others to build His kingdom at 3010 W. 15th Street in Panama City, Florida! I’m hopeful that He will call out men and women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and older to join Him in His work here, across the street, and around the World. I’m hopeful that God will raise up a New Generation of faithful followers of all ages as we work through Building 4 Generations to Come.
Don't Stub Your Toe
“I love the spring like weather.” That's what my friend said to me last night. In Florida, we may only experience a few days and nights such as this before it moves right on into summer. This morning, I was thinking about summer and going barefoot and stumping my big toe.
Have you ever stumped your big toe? It hurts. You find out how important your big toe is to walking and to your balance. Stumping your big toe is a visible reminder of a mistake you've made. Maybe you weren't watching where you were going and your inattention caused you to trip. Possibly you were moving too fast and in your haste you stumped your toe. For a short time (minutes, sometimes hours and maybe a couple of days) you were reminded to tread carefully. You were reminded to walk circumspectly so that you wouldn't further offend your big toe. It seems as if, for a season, that you have a messenger to torment you and to remind you of your inattention or unwise haste. Now, read what Paul has to say:
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NASB
Something “bothered” Paul. This thorn in the flesh was a constant reminder to Paul that God was Paul's sufficiency. This painful messenger was a tool to keep Paul from sinning against God and against others through his self-exaltation.
While I don't know the nature of Paul's thorn in the flesh, I do know about stumping my toe. Oh, how I wish that I were perfect and had never been inattentive to my spiritual devotions. Oh, how I wish that I had paid better attention to my surroundings so that I wouldn't stumble and stump my toe. I may not have a thorn in the flesh like Paul, however, I do fight against pride and against greed (intense and selfish desires). These sins cause me to stump my toe. They are a reminder that I need Holy Spirit to fill me each and every moment to keep me from self-destructing. They are a reminder that even though I am weak and fight against flesh that nothing is impossible with God and that in my weakness, God's power is manifested in His grace. His grace to forgive and to empower me to walk before Him.
Walk with the King today and don't stump your toe.
“Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 MSG
Paul, on one of his missionary journeys found himself in a season of conflicts without and fears within. But he found refreshment for his soul to hear how the Corinthians responded to his letter.
The Corinthians heard the truth and responded rightly. The distress that they experienced at finding themselves at odds with the Will of God drove them to a godly repentance that turned them around and put them back on the path of salvation. This is one of the main reasons that we need a daily time of reading and reflecting upon the Word of God.
As we gaze intently upon the Word of God, Jesus Christ, we see things (thoughts, actions, habits, beliefs, intents of our heart) that do not line up with God's Word. When we slam up against anything that needs to be changed to bring us in alignment with God's Word, we should, in our distress, run back to God in repentance that leads us back into the way of salvation.
Our response shouldn't be one of regret that we've been found out. Our response shouldn't be how we might hide our wrong thoughts or actions but, rather it should be a repenting and a turning from our own ways to the path that God has revealed to us. FOLLOWING MY OWN WAY, AS OPPOSED TO GOD'S WAY, LEADS TO BROKENNESS AND DEATH. It has always been this way. But spending time in God's Word will help us see how we might be transformed to be more like Jesus. More like Him than we have ever been before.
Spiritual disciplines like daily reading and meditating on God's Word are for our benefit. Quiet times - they do a Christian good.
- Bro. Rick
Finding Peace in Your Storm
“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."”
John 20:21 NASB
After His crucifixion and after His resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples and speaks to their fears and gives them a glimpse into what is in store for each and every one of His disciples.
The disciples were being tossed to and fro on the stormy waters of doubt (where was Jesus - was He raised from the dead), fear (they killed Jesus, will they kill us), indecision (what do we do now that Jesus is gone) and disappointment (our leader, our king is gone). In the same way that He calmed the storm and the waters, Jesus calms the hearts of His disciples. Seeing and hearing Jesus the disciples were freed from their doubt and fear. The disappointment and the indecision are gone and replaced by Jesus' clear command - As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.
In this season of your life, are you in a storm? Are you battling waves of doubt and fear? Are the winds of indecision and disappointment buffeting you? Do you long to have peace? You need to hear from the risen One. The very One that longs to shepherd your soul desires to speak to your storm.
“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."”
John 10:4-5 NASB
How can you hope to hear from Him in the middle of your storm if you don't know His voice? How can you hope to follow the Good Shepherd if you don't spend time with Him. Why not make a commitment now to daily spend time reading, meditating and studying the Bible - God's Word to us? Make the time, choose a plan, follow through and be prepared to hear Him speak to your storm. You'll find that God has perfect designs and plans for all areas of your life and when He speaks to your storm, be obedient. Follow the commands.
Follow the Good Shepherd. You need not fear the One who desires to lead you in paths of righteousness for His Names' sake. Follow the One that will lead you beside still waters and desires to pasture you in green pastures. The Good Shepherd protects, leads, provides, and walks with you even when the path leads through the Valley of Death. Let the Good Shepherd lead you in the storms of your life.
Characteristics of a Sheep
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.“”
John 10:27-30 NASB
In Chapter 10, John relates what Jesus said about Himself and about His followers. He said that He was the Good Shepherd, The Door, and when asked confirmed that He was the Christ and that He and the Father were one. He left little to the imagination in this chapter.
He also left little to the imagination when it came to His followers.
MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE - I know my wife's voice well because I've spent time with her. I've been with her when she's been happy, sad, mad and scared. I know her voice when she is stressed and when she is not. You get the point - spend time in The Word so that you'll know when The Lord is speaking to you.
AND I KNOW THEM - I think that this speaks to a relationship, don't you? A real sheep doesn't just know about the Good Shepherd, he knows Him and the Good Shepherd, in return, knows the sheep. This intimate relationship begins when one makes Jesus Lord of his life and chooses to believe that He is the Christ.
AND THEY FOLLOW ME - a characteristic of Jesus' sheep is that they follow Him. They obey His commands. They are doing what He has commanded in The Word. There should be spiritual fruit that clearly indicates that you are His.
AND I GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THEM, AND THEY WILL NEVER PERISH AND NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND - the benefits of being His sheep are eternal life and unending security.
These benefits are ones that we want our family and friends to participate in and cause us to go to great lengths to see that they have opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
LAWS OF THE HARVEST
“[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings.
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! [Ps. 112:9.]”
2 Corinthians 9:6, 8-9 AMP
There are laws of the harvest that should help us understand how we should live, give and serve.
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. Duh, right? We've all heard this but it bears repeating. You are gonna get what you plant. You don't plant corn and hope that squash comes up. How can you expect a harvest of righteousness when you are scattering acts of unrighteousness?
YOU REAP LATER THAN YOU SOW. Another physical law of the harvest is that you sew and then you wait for the results. When you live, give or serve others the results do not sprout up right away. The results come weeks, months and sometimes, years after the act of sowing.
YOU REAP MORE THAN YOU SOW. You sow a seed of corn and you will get a stalk of corn with many ears and many seeds. The same is true with the righteous or unrighteous acts that you commit. You WILL reap more than you sow.
My friend, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly. However, generously scattering seeds of kindness and righteousness will cause a great harvest to return to you. These laws work in the fields as they do in your home, in your business and in your church.
Maybe this has been your practice for sometime. If not, then start today to benevolently sow seeds of righteousness. Sow a thought - reap an action. Sow an action - reap a habit. Sow a habit - reap a life. Be careful what you sow.
How a Christ-Follower Should Walk
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:25 NASB
A Christ-follower's walk, the evidence that Christ lives within him/her, should be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. Paul held these actions up against what the flesh produces as proof of the superiority of living and walking in the Spirit as opposed to living in the flesh.
Here is a modern version of what Paul said: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.”
Galatians 5:19-21 MSG
To my shame, I admit that I can see myself in this list in times past. Knowing I'm capable of living in the flesh, I want to know what it means to Walk by the Spirit.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS A WORK OF THE SPIRIT. I've tried and tried, (maybe you have too!) to make resolutions and improve myself and do good things. However, the fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit and not by our efforts. Salvation (living in the Spirit) leads to sanctification (walking in the Spirit).
READ AND FEED. The fruit of the Spirit is a result of the Spirit living in you. Paul says it like this in Col 3:16, Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you. Apart from a daily time of reading God's word and feeding upon God's word, how will we know how to walk? What does it mean to feed upon God's word? Good question. I believe it to be a systematic reading of the Bible to find how we should live. Feeding on God's word means that we will allow the Spirit of God to quicken the Word of God to our minds as we read it. When we do that we will find that we are allowing the Word of God to control how we live. To say it another way, to Walk in the Spirit is to be controlled by the Word of God.
PRAY AND OBEY. As we read and feed on God's Word, we will find specific instances and ares of our life that are in conflict with God's Word. To Walk in the Spirit will require that we agree with the Word of God and allow the Word to control how we live. The Bible has a word for agreeing with God and allowing the Spirit to control us - it's called repentance. We read and we feed. God quickens His word to our minds and we agree with Him and ask the Holy Spirit to help us walk in His way. We pray and we obey.
I pray that we will all see that improvement in our own power is empty and vain thinking. Living a life in union with the Spirit of God produces a desire to read His Word and obey His commands. It is called walking in the Spirit.
Sheep who Shepherd: