Friday Frivolity ~ Staff Sled Race Style

A merry competitive heart does good!

Last Sunday our esteemed chairman of the deacons shared an observation about the pastoral team during a presentation to the congregation. The chairman indicated the pastors seemed to enjoy some good-natured competition. We have no idea where he got that idea from. Hehe…

Purposeful Friendships

the-purpose-of-christmasA friend shows himself friendly and many of the folks at Grace Baptist did just that on Sunday. They did so by inviting a friend to church. Nothing fancy, just a “Hey, would love to have you join me for church” offer. Many prayed and made that very offer. Some, perhaps, were declined but apparently many were not.  The auditorium was packed. We gave away 32 “Purpose of Christmas” books. That means at least 32 friends heard the gospel in person and took the gospel home with them in print. Wow, that is a great Sunday!

Now here is the hard part: keep praying for your friends (even the ones who may have said no thanks to your invitation) and keep inviting them. Just around the corner is our annual Ladies Christmas Party (Friday, December 5th), a Men’s Breakfast (Saturday, December 13th) and especially of note, the Christmas Cantata, “Christmas Makes Everything New” (Friday, December 19th005706202 and Sunday, the 21st). The cantata features a 60 voice choir along with purposeful testimonies. The cantata provides another can’t miss opportunity to share the gospel with a friend. What could be more exciting than seeing a friend become a brother or sister in Christ this holiday season? God has used these very events to do just that. Keep being a friend, keep praying and keep inviting!

Move That Dirt

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Two weeks ago we humbly asked the congregation to prayerfully consider making a faith promise to expand our parking. The goal was $30,000 to get the project underway and provide some needed parking in time for winter. The total goal was $60,000 to complete the entire project. In just 2 Sundays, a little over $53,000 was committed towards this project by the people of Grace! Wow, praise God!

Equipment arrived yesterday and soon dirt will be moved, because God’s people were moved. They were moved by a vision that saw more parking would mean more people could hear the gospel. That is sacrificial! Thank you for your commitment to the gospel and reaching people in our community.

Now let’s move some dirt!

Driscoll, Shirk And Appreciating Shepherds

It’s pastor appreciation month, right? So let’s talk about pastors, two in particular: Driscoll and Shirk. In a bit of irony most people reading this blog know the one named Shirk but fewer might know the one named Driscoll. Ironic because Driscoll is what we call a “pastor celebrity” while Shirk is just a regular pastor shepherd. Except one is still a pastor and the other is not.

Pastor Driscoll was (and probably still is to some) an icon to a whole generation of young, restless, and theologically conservative men who were either pastors or were preparing to be one. He was himself young, brash, willing to say the things regular pastors wouldn’t and in ways regular pastors wouldn’t, kind of pastor. This drew a crowd (15,000 attended the weekly services of Mars Hill Church in multiple states) . This piqued the interest of a generation that didn’t want to do church the way their fathers did. He gave theological credibility to being a church culture rebel. Here lies the problem; at heart he was a rebel. This week he resigned due to a lengthy season of turmoil involving investigations and lawsuits over his character in terms of spiritual abuse, plagiarism and questionable business ethics  among other items. I want to be careful and sincere in my very distant and removed critique of Pastor Driscoll but if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck; well, it’s probably a duck. Turns out he was a duck more than a shepherd. Pastor Driscoll can and may still find a shepherds heart, return to feeding and loving a flock, and as Peter was restored, so too can he.

The Apostle Peter was a brash, say things in ways no one else dared, kind of guy too. But all of that was untamed still by Christ and when the heat of ministry got real hot (think of the arrest and trial of Jesus) he leaned on his own bravado and plan. It was a, how shall we say it, “Ministry fail!” Then came a little mentoring moment by the Sea of Galilee where Jesus restored Peter to ministry. What did Peter learn? He tells us in his own words:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And a few verses later; God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

Hmm. Sounds more like Pastor Shirk than it does Pastor Driscoll. Which, I believe, makes sense why one is still a pastor and the other is not.

Pastor Shirk (in the spirit of full disclosure is my Senior Pastor) models these verses because he has been tamed by Christ. Is he perfect? No, but he has yielded his ministry to the Chief Shepherd. His services draw, umm, 400. But he is an example to those 400. He leads those 400 to green pastures. The church is not about him; it’s about Christ. He is faithful not flashy. I think that is what Jesus taught Peter about being a true spiritual leader.

And perhaps that is what Pastor Driscoll will discover.

So, during pastor appreciation month give appreciation to all those faithful men of God who labor week in and week out to simply and humbly care for souls. They will be hardly be known outside their own community, let alone icons to a generation, but they will bring honor and glory to their Savior.  He will exalt them in due time and give them the crown of glory that will never fade away.  And that will be just fine by them.

Friday Frivolity ~ PeeWee Club Style

A merry heart does good…

Put a bunch of 3 and 4 year-old children on a church platform and well…let the cuteness and hilarity begin.

The Silencing Of The Pulpit?

There is chilling news out of Houston this week where the sermons of pastors are being subpoenaed in search of homosexual or transgender discrimination or any negative content about the mayor.  In an attempt to intimidate and silence the pulpit, the city of Houston under the direction of its’ openly lesbian Mayor has requested pastors to turn over to the city any sermons or communications they have had with their congregation that discuss homosexuality, transgender-ism or even the mention the Mayor. Absolutely chilling.

Here is in a nutshell what this is all about: The city passed a law ostensibly protecting the rights of transgendered to use any bathroom (men’s or women’s) they want to. So, your 12 year-old daughter might share a bathroom with a 50 year-old man who thinks he is a woman and it’s protected by the law. Apparently some pastors thought this to be, um shall we say, debatable on biblical grounds. That, according to the City of Houston is just unacceptable and must be silenced.

A few years ago some of you reading this will remember a little dust-up in our community over a transgender high school teacher. The teacher who is a he, thought he was really a she and under threat of a lawsuit, asked the school district to protect his right to act and dress like a she while teaching. The right, by the way, came from a law that said you cannot discriminate against a person with a mental disability. That detail was only an inconvenience to the whole thing. The district, not wanting to get their pants sued off (pun intended) complied and did their best to just plow through the whole thing trying to minimize any controversy. One problem, it was highly controversial. Our ministry decided to speak to the issue graciously but with conviction. This is where we discovered first hand the intolerance of the so-called tolerant. We were cursed at and about, asked to go away and stay out of other people’s business.

Fast forward 8 years to the news out of Houston where apparently tolerance is a one way street. This is where what took place in Batavia 8 years ago was heading and we knew it then. Few believed us. The new moral majority in America doesn’t attend church. Instead they worship at the temple of laws and intimidation.  The law of heaven is being trampled upon by the law of cursed earth. We humans, after all, know better even if we don’t know if we are a boy or girl.