Letters from Pastor Mike
 
 
Each week, Pastor Mike Bowles shares his thoughts and God’s Word to the congregation of Frederica Baptist Church through email. 
 
 

Light of Hope

Light of Hope

 

Dear Friends,

 

Over the few weeks around Easter, we received donations towards a food distribution to the families of the Light of Hope Girls Center in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  We received from you $1,005.49.  While this did not completely cover last week’s distribution it did cover most of it.  Following is a note from Debbie Mauger thanking you for your generosity:

 

Dear Mike,

 

Please pass along our thanks to your congregation for generously providing for our latest food distribution to the needy families of the girls in our school.  I didn’t get as many pictures as I planned because I was talking with each parent about the exam scores. But I did get some (below). I talked about the importance of the resurrection to have a personal relationship with God using lots of scripture. One girl who we ordered a food packet for hasn’t returned to the center so we divided the packet in two and helped two other local families that needed help. The families weren’t told about the food distribution ahead of time and were very grateful for the food, especially the oil. Cooking oil in this country has almost doubled in price in the last 2 months due to Ramadan, Ukraine war, and hoarding. Also, many other food prices have gone much higher than normal. So many poorer families haven’t been able to buy as much food as normal.

 

We gave each family:

22 pounds of rice                            30 eggs

4.4 pounds of flour                         7 bananas

4.4 pounds of lentils                       2.2 pounds of sugar

2.2 pounds of salt                           ½ pound of loose tea

1 quart of oil                                    1 bar of soap

4.4 pounds of potatoes                  1 bottle of shampoo

4.4 pounds of onions                      2.2 pounds of laundry detergent

2.2 pounds of oranges

 

We spent right around $1,150 so your church covered the cost. Please thank them very much!

 

Debbie

 

I know that Bangladesh seems like a million miles away and we have so many people and problems to deal with here in Georgia and the United States.  However, over and over, Jesus calls us to give to the poor.  There are not many people groups in the world poorer than these destitute families that the Mauger’s minister to.  Knowing that they are being presented with the saving gospel of Christ (spiritual food) in addition to the physical food makes your donations of eternal value!  Thank you for giving!

 

Only by Grace!

 

Pastor Mike
 

 

     


Compromise

Compromise

Dear Friends,

No longer do those of the world ask us to compromise our beliefs, morals or principals… They demand it!  Frankly, if we are honest, much of their reasoning and logic sounds right, fair or reasonable to us.  Unfortunately, those messages are appealing to the “natural or carnal man” within us, not the “spiritual man” that is a result of our rebirth in Christ (Rom. 8:5-10). It is always a temptation to listen to our old nature and compromise.  Typically, it will make life here in this world easier but it is a slippery slope because the more we listen, the more “right” it sounds and as soon as we compromise a point of godliness, the easier it is to do it again.

To compromise is to make concessions or accommodations for someone who does not agree with a certain set of standards or rules. There are times when compromise is good and right—compromise is a basic skill needed in marriage, for example, and in other situations in which keeping the peace or unity of the body is more desirable than getting one’s own way.

In certain other matters, however, compromise is not good. The Bible makes it clear that God does not condone compromising His Word or commands: “Be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left” (Deut. 5:32).  “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed” (Psalm 119:2-4)I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law (jot or tittle) will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So, if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:18-19).  God is holy, and His ways are right and perfect. Concerning matters that God has clearly addressed in His Word, we do not negotiate, bargain, or compromise.

What makes compromise so dangerous is the subtle way it approaches us. Compromise, doesn’t involve a wholesale capitulation to worldly ways or ideals; rather, it accommodates them which in turn affirms them.  I would guess that most who read this article would affirm the Bible to be God’s Word.  You may even say that the writers were inspired by God to write what they did.  But inerrant; relevant for today; literal?  This is where compromise is so often made by, we modern highly intelligent, humans.  “That was meant for the first century not the twenty-first century…” Compromise! “The Bible is more of a philosophical guide rather than a true historical document…” Compromise! “Over the millennia many mistakes have been made in our modern Bibles by copyists and translators…” Compromise!  These seemingly logical compromises completely invalidate and de-legitimize the Bible as our guide to eternal life.  That’s Satan’s greatest desire!  If we truly believe in an eternal, perfect and transcendent God, why can’t we hold to the belief that He would protect and maintain the perfection of His revelation to us? Dear friends, never cross that line.  Hold to the inspired, inerrant and always relevant truth of God’s Word!

As we go through this world, we will hear many calls to compromise. The “fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25), the “… empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, (Col. 2:8), and “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) all tempt us to compromise in areas we should not. Usually, the temptation to compromise is heightened by some type of fear, such as the fear of being rejected or criticized by friends, family or others of the world, perhaps even others in the church! But, from an eternal perspective, there are certain lines that should never be crossed because there are times when compromise becomes evil, a tool of Satan.  Resist him! (1 Pet. 5:9)

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



The National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer

Dear Friends,

The following selected excerpts are from the National Day of Prayer Task Force website (www.nationaldayofprayer.org):

“The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people to pray for the nation…  Because of the faith of many of our founding fathers, public prayer and national days of prayer have a long-standing and significant history in American tradition… The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of ‘humiliation, fasting, and prayer’ in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual National Day of Prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations. 

The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation as it enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call for us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people… The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman emeritus, reminded us: ‘We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too.”

Personally, I have been involved in many National Day or Prayer gatherings, some large and some small.  Just like coming together on Sunday mornings for worship, there is something about knowing that millions of people around the country are gathering at the same time to join our voices in supplication to our Most High God.  This year, I am greatly honored to have been asked to lead our community in prayer for our government and military.

The past few years have been a time of unprecedented upheaval in our nation and it is not over.  We are a divided people here in this country and acceptable middle ground is becoming harder and harder to find.  We have left the path our forefathers set us upon and we are getting more and more lost.  As a believer in Christ as Savior and an adherent to the inspiration and infallibility of God’s Word, most of the things I see in our country right now grieve me greatly.  Movements and messages touted as “progressive” are generally anti-scriptural, anti-moral and anti-God.  All of us who react negatively to this “progressive” agenda are labeled as bigoted, intolerant, ignorant, chauvinistic, intractable, unjust, even crazy.  Why?  Because, as our brother Paul Reed said to me over lunch, “because we believe in a living, eternal God, we believe that He can inspire men to write and maintain, through the centuries, a living, eternal document (the Bible) that is always relevant and true regardless of the day and age in which we read it.”  He is exactly right!  So, we who love Christ and do our best to follow His commands, hold to the Word unapologetically and without compromise regardless of the attacks, those fiery darts of the devil, that are thrown our way.

I hope that you will join me this Thursday at noon, either in person at First Baptist Brunswick or in a spirit of prayer wherever you happen to be.  We do need to pray for our country and all of its various aspects.  However, most of all, we need to pray that this country and its people will repent and return to God and His Word.  That God alone will be lifted high and glorified as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Government cannot save us.  We must lead our country, starting right here, one person at a time, to the only One who can!

Only by Grace,

Pastor Mike

 



Updates to Our Governing Documents

Updates to Our Governing Documents

Dear Friends,

By now you should have received and I hope looked over the revision recommendations for our church’s governing documents.  This Sunday night, following our covered dish fellowship dinner, we will have an after-dinner family discussion about these updates.  This will be a time for everyone to voice their questions and receive answers from the committee members who are recommending these revisions.  This will not be an official church conference meeting.  There will be no motions made from the floor, no seconds and no voting.  This is our family, getting together after dinner, for a friendly talk. 

To that end, there are a few things that I would like to remind all of us to do and remember as we come together as a family of faith:

First, please come prepared.  We emailed or mailed everyone twenty-one pages of text that included Monty’s letter, the church constitution, the church by-laws and the explanations behind the revisions that are being recommended. I am afraid that if you try to read through all of these during dinner while talking to friends it will be difficult to follow or effectively participate in the discussion.  While you are reading through the documents please jot down any questions or thoughts you may have.  That will allow our discussion to keep moving and not bog down.

Second, please don’t jump to conclusions or assume a hidden agenda.  The purpose of these updates is to bring these documents into alignment with how we are already operating and to clarify processes in order to avoid future confusion or misinterpretation.  Our desire is solely to protect the members of the church individually and to protect the integrity of the church collectively.

Third, please don’t be shy or think that your thoughts are unimportant.  We are a family of faith.  As such, no one is more or less important than anyone else.  If you have a question, please ask it.  If you think something might be worded better, please share it.  If you have a concern, please explain it.  No one will be mocked or ridiculed for speaking up.  It’s been said, “the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.”  The committee has put in a lot of time and thought on the wording and the intent of all these revisions.  We will happily explain ourselves and consider other thoughts and ideas.

Forth, please strive for unity in our family.  1 Peter 3:8 (ESV) says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  When we come together, we are not Democrats or Republicans from opposing sides of the aisle.  We are a family that loves each other.  We are brothers and sisters in faith (1 Corinthians 1:10).  We are joint heirs with Christ in the family of God (Romans 8:17).  We are all baptized by One Spirit into One Body of many parts with Christ as the Head (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).  Unity is of God; divisiveness is of the devil (Luke 11:23).  As we are discussing these documents and the needed revisions, I hope we will all remember that we have a common goal and purpose.  To the ends of protecting the church, expanding Christ’s kingdom and glorifying God, let us treat each other with dignity and respect as we ourselves desire to be treated. 

 

Finally, please pray.  Pray for this whole process.  Pray that everyone will understand the spirit in which these updates are made and presented.  Pray that we would be faithful to God’s character and His Word as we talk together as a family about these recommendations.  Pray for our unity.  Psalm 133:1(ESV) “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

 

Only by Grace!

 

Pastor Mike



What is God Like?

What Is God Like

 

Dear Friends,

 

Let’s talk about God.  The gods of men come in all shapes and sizes.  People worship big gods and small gods, gods with stunning beauty and gods with multiple arms and legs.  Some gods live nearby and other gods live far away.  A few fit in our pocket until we trade them in on bigger gods.  Some are parked in our driveway until we decide we want a god with more power or a brighter shine.  Many of us worship ourselves as gods or we treat our children as if they were.  There are smiling gods and gods with bloody claws.  Some gods will listen and work on our behalf while others leave us to the whim fate.  As Christians we quickly denounce these lower case “g” gods as false, idolatry and evil.  We say, “There is only one true God, the creator God, the God who has revealed Himself in the Scripture.

 

So, what about our God?  What is He like?  We don’t find an essay in the Bible that zeros in on the full nature of God.  Even Jesus, God the Son in the flesh, only hinted at the attributes of God in parables.  He never sat down and wrote an autobiography.  While the Bible is not an exhaustive treatise on everything there is to know about God it does contain a number of His attributes, His nature spread throughout the pages.  Perhaps more importantly however, we find examples of how He interacts with human beings.  And through these accounts we have access to many deep insights about Him.

 

When you stop and think about it, it’s amazing that human beings can know God in the personal way that we do – that we can develop a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.  King David asked in Psalm 8:4, “What is man that you are mindful of him…?”  What is man indeed… Still, the testimony of God’s people through the ages is that God is mindful of us and has provided a way for us to get to know him in a very personal way.  Unfortunately, many of the beliefs that people have are way off the mark, scripturally.

 

The Pouncer God is the idea that God is out there just waiting to pounce on us whenever we step out of line.  God’s attributes of all-knowing and all-seeing have been warped into the impression that God is spying on us through a hole in the ceiling, waiting to cut loose with His wrath and judgement.  The famous preacher of colonial times, Jonathan Edwards, preached what is one of the most famous sermons in American history, “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God.” He said, “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked:  His wrath towards you burns like fire; He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast in the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in His sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his sight, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”  That sermon helped start the Great Awakening but it’s easy to get the impression that God is just looking for the smallest excuse to cast us into the fire. The Bible, however, assures us of quite a different attitude in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

 

At the other end of the spectrum is the Pushover God.  He’s got a softer heart than Santa Claus because, although He knows who’s been naughty and nice, He’s going to give everyone the Big Present: eternal life in Heaven.  People who share this view would ask, “How could a loving God send people to Hell?”  The answer is, of course, “He won’t!  God is love and love always forgives.”  However, the Bible teaches us in 2 Thess. 1:6-9, “God is just: … He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power”

 

A different variation of the pushover god, that is very popular today with preachers of the prosperity gospel, is the Sugar Daddy God.  God has everything and He loves us soooo much that He wants us to have everything we could ever want or need too.  For these believers, their favorite verse is James 4:2, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  Unfortunately for these people the next verse, James 4:3, also says: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

 

So, what is God truly like?  Well, it has been said that, “if humans could understand God, He would not be God.”  There is truth in that.  God is more than our finite minds can grasp.  It’s not that He is confusing or hard to conceptualize.  God is simply beyond human understanding.  One of my favorite chapters in all the Bible is Job 38 where God is answering Job’s complaints out of a storm:   38:4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”  38:8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 38:11 “… This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?” 38:16-17 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?” 38:19-20 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?”  38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,” 38:35-36 “Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  God questions Job this way for two chapters, 71 verses, contrasting God’s infinite greatness with man’s finite smallness.

 

Although my feeble brain is unable to fully comprehend God, I am reassured by this.  I do not want to serve a god who is no greater than I.  Although God made us in His image, He is more than a super-duper version of humanity.  There is an awesome, otherness about God.  He is the supreme power in and the source of all existence. 

 

In God’s gracious understanding of our needs, He has given us some understanding about Him through His Word that we can hold on to.  Here are just a few of His attributes given to us in the Bible:  Infinite and eternal (Col. 1:17), unchanging (Mal. 3:6), all-powerful (Psalm 33:6), all-knowing (Isa. 46:9-10), everywhere-present (Psalm 139:7-10), wise (Rom. 11:33), faithful (Deut. 7:9), good (Psalm 34:8), just (Deut. 32:4), merciful (Rom. 9:15-16), gracious (Psalm 145:8), loving (1 John 4:7-8), holy (Rev. 4:8), and glorious (Hab. 3:4).  Obviously, there are many more listed and shown in the pages of scripture as well.  This is just the beginning of our knowledge about our amazing God!

 

Only by Grace!

 

Pastor Mike

 



Pharmakeia

Pharmakeia

Dear Friends,

Over the years I have been asked many times if the Bible specifically speaks against drug use.  To begin with, let’s qualify that as illicit (forbidden by law) or recreational drug use or improper use of legally obtained drugs.  Modern medicine has vastly improved and lengthened human life with the proper or directed use of various natural and synthetic chemicals. So, we do need to be careful about what we are talking about.

Usually, I respond with the most obvious answer, the use, possession and sale of these drugs is illegal!  Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 all tell us to be subject to governing authorities.  The only time that is suspended is when the laws of men conflict with the Law of God (Acts 5:27-29).  So, in that sense, the Bible does speak against illicit drug use.  However, many will respond then that Marijuana as well as some or all “recreational” drugs should be legalized just like alcohol.  Then it will be OK, Biblically, to use them.

To that I respond with Ephesians 5:18-19And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…” This verse negatively contrasts being controlled by wine which leads to uninhibited, wasteful living with being controlled by the Spirit which leads to positive, joyful relationships with God and man.  Most scholars agree that Paul uses “wine” and “drunkenness” here because it was the most common vice of the day but his intention was that anything we allow to control our mind and actions other than the Holy Spirit should be avoided.  However, it doesn’t say “drugs” specifically, right?  No, it doesn’t.

Recently, I came across an article that explained the Greek word “pharmakeia.”  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  This is where we get our English words “pharmacy” and “pharmacist.” In the ancient Greek language, this was the generic term for “the use and administration of drugs” so it was also used for potions, poisoning, spells, witchcraft, and sorcery. Because common English uses entirely different words, phrases like selling drugs evoke something illicit while taking meds or prescription drugs don’t imply anything nefarious. Ancient Greek used “pharmakeia” to refer to the whole spectrum of medicines, hallucinogens, poisons and those who provide them. This makes cultural and Biblical context crucial when interpreting terms related to “pharmakeia.”

The Greek word “pharmakeia” appears in Galatians 5:20 and Revelation 18:23. The same root word appears in Revelation 19:21, Revelation 21:8, and Revelation 22:15. These are all translated into English as “sorcery,” “witchcraft,” or “sorcerer.”  When we hear the word sorcery we think of supernatural power and spells or a user of black magic.  However, the Biblical use of “pharmakeia” doesn’t really fit well with our idea of sorcery. Rather, the term suggests various forms of drug abuse such as used in pagan worship, as an addiction, or as a poison used to kill, manipulate or control others.

Ancient societies were no stranger to mind-altering chemicals. Archaeologists note the presence of opium, hemp, and many other substances in Bible-era cultures. These compounds were not as potent as modern options but still capable of powerful effects. Pagan temples such as those in Greece, Ephesus and around the Near East sometimes used mind-altering drugs in fortune-telling and worship practices. These may have included natural vapors and deliberately mixed compounds. So, a Biblical “sorcerer” could be thought of as the equivalent of a modern “drug dealer.” Or as the type of person who slips chemicals into a woman’s drink to take advantage of her.  When Paul wrote Galatians and John recorded Revelation, these practices would have been part of the local culture.

I found this study very interesting.  While the exact meaning of “pharmakeia” isn’t exactly crystal clear, neither is it completely obscure. Nowhere in Scripture is “pharmakeia” used in conjunction with true workers of supernatural miracles (God, Jesus, angels).  While I suppose it’s true that the Devil and his demons influence and encourage drug use, again, the word is not used.   There’s no sense that Scripture uses “pharmakeia” in reference to supernatural powers.  Instead, Biblical “sorcery” seems to be about abusing drugs for idolatry, recreation, and the oppression of others.  So, the Bible, I believe, does indeed specifically speak against this practice.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Loving Correction

Loving Correction

Dear Friends,

I imagine that most of us have witnessed the behavior of a child who is always allowed to do as he pleases with no consistent discipline. It is not a pretty sight. Nor is the overly permissive parent loving, for a lack of discipline dooms the child to a difficult future. I always hate to correct my grandson but sometimes it is the most loving thing I can do for him and is necessary for his own good.  Likewise, sometimes, church discipline is necessary. Done correctly, it is loving and it is commanded by God. 

The purpose of church discipline is never to be mean-spirited or to display a holier-than-thou attitude. Rather, the goal of church discipline is the restoration of the individual to full fellowship with both God and other believers. The discipline is to start privately and gradually become more public. It is to be done in love toward the individual, in obedience to God, and in godly fear for the sake of both the individual and others in the church.

Our post-modern society today tells us that it is not our place to judge others and certainly never to correct them since everyone lives their own truth.  That is a lie from Satan, attacking God’s sovereign truth.  The Bible is clear about God’s desire for us to reflect His holiness. “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15 NIV).  God’s Word is also clear about the need for church discipline to deal with sin in the church. Since one of the jobs of the church is to demonstrate the goodness and holiness of God, a church with a member who persists in sin must take steps to address the state of that person’s soul as well as protect the church body from being corrupted by unchallenged sin in its membership.

The process of church discipline is never pleasant but Jesus gave us an outline to follow when we must confront another professing Christian: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV).  This process shows the seriousness of sin in the church and the need to strive for repentance and reconciliation. The steps protect both the individual being confronted and the purity and reputation of the church.  They should not be sidestepped or ignored.

Of course, we must ask, what kinds of sins should a church confront? Since everyone is a sinner, including the pastors and leaders, where do we draw the line?  What sins are worthy of confrontation? The answer seems to be sins that fall into three different categories; 1) Lifestyle sins that are public and ongoing (1 Cor. 5:11-13), 2) Divisive behavior sins that break down the unity of the church (Tit. 3:10), and 3) the sin of heresy or false teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-4). These are differentiated from those sins we commit in our hearts because we live in the flesh. For example, a Christian struggling with impure thoughts or personal jealousies is not publicly defaming the name of Christ as he wrestles with those sins. They are private and unwanted. They are sins for which the person needs to repent and perhaps reach out to a believing brother or sister for help.  However, a professing Christian who lives in open, unrepentant sin, causes division in the body or advocates teachings or beliefs contrary to Scripture must be confronted.

Unfortunately, most churches today never practice church discipline, even in glaring instances of impropriety and obvious sin. The result is that the ministry of the church is undermined and the legitimacy of its message cast in doubt. If we ignore sin in our midst then outsiders are right to wonder if we take the Bible seriously.

Hopefully, any disciplinary action a church takes against a member is successful in bringing about godly sorrow and true repentance. When repentance occurs, the individual should be restored to fellowship. The man involved in the 1 Corinthians 5 passage repented, and Paul later encouraged the church to restore him to full fellowship with the church (2 Cor. 2:5-8). Unfortunately, disciplinary action, even when done correctly and in love, is not always successful in bringing about restoration. Even when church discipline fails to bring about repentance, it is still needed to accomplish other good purposes such as maintaining a good testimony in our society.

One of my greatest desires as a pastor is to never need to confront or discipline someone in my flock.  However, Hebrews 13:7 says that I am called to watch over my flock and to give an account.  We are all called to love our brothers and sisters enough to do what is necessary to protect their souls and we are commanded to protect the integrity of the church and to glorify the Lord.  Sometimes that calls for loving correction.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



My Birthday

My Birthday –

Dear Friends,

As of today, I have traveled around the Sun, 56 times.  That means I have travelled through space 32.7 billion miles!  I feel like I should be in better shape!  Of course, I am but a speck of animated matter on the planet Earth which is what is actually travelling around the Sun.  The small star we call our Sun, even our solar system, is but a miniscule dot among the estimated 100 thousand million stars and systems that make up our Milky Way galaxy which is only one of the approximately 100 billion viewable galaxies in the seemingly limitless expanse of the universe.

Of course, the Bible tells us that there is a limit to the unfathomable size of the universe because our God is not only in but beyond the universe.  He made it and set it in motion.  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4 NIV).  What is man indeed?  What am I?  Why would God, who transcends all things, have any concern whatsoever with teeny, tiny, insignificant me?  “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from far. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:1-3 NIV).

How great is our God!  How greatly is HE to be praised!  For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome…” (Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV).  Man, in our arrogance, presume to elevate ourselves to God’s level of mastery!  We say we don’t need God!  We can take care of ourselves! We are the lords of our own destiny!  How can we be so vain? “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3 NASB). 

Near the turn of the first millennium A.D., Anselm of Canterbury developed the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.  In it, He defined God as that “being than which none greater can be conceived.”  Our imaginations are fertile fields.  According to this definition, which is certainly in line with Biblical truth, whatever we can conceive as better, greater, higher, etc.… God is beyond that!  That indescribable God knows me, cares for me and ultimately paid a price for me that I might join Him for eternity.  Wow!

Today, I am 56 years old.  I know myself pretty well.  I KNOW that I do not deserve the notice of such a being as our God much less His care, concern or offer of salvation.  However, His Word, the Bible tells me that I have it, none-the-less.  It is my privilege and joy to serve such a God!  I hope it is yours as well.  If you are reading this letter and you cannot make that same statement, please get in touch with me soon and let me show you the way.  This is important!  I’ve made it around the Sun 56 times but I’m not promised a 57th!  Life is fragile and can end in a moment.  If your eternity is not settled, don’t waste another second!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike

 



Transition Survey

Transition Survey

Dear Friends,

As we rush ever nearer towards the transition to our new building and campus there are many, many things to consider in regard to how we operate and move forward.  Over the last few years, we have steadily reduced the amount of space we occupy and that has affected what we have been able to do and how we have had to do those things.  Very soon, the opposite will be true.  We will soon experience exponential growth in our available space.  That is very exciting because it opens up possibilities to do new things and old things in new (hopefully better) ways. 

Paul, Cameron and I have spent hours and hours thinking about, discussing and readying ourselves and the church to step into this fast-approaching reality.  We are calling and attending meetings, reading studies, considering our personality as a body and praying that our Lord will guide us in every step we take.  Our desire is not to do things the way we like them or necessarily the easiest way.  We want to make decisions and changes that will lead us to operate in the “best” way, in a way that is most effective to the salvation of the lost and to growth in God’s Kingdom.  I hope that you join us in that desire.

One of the items that we have been tossing around for months now is what is the best way to organize our Sunday morning format now that we will have options for doing things differently.  The formats we have been prayerfully considering are; 1) Current Format – Worship, Fellowship, Life Groups, 2) Traditional Format – Life Groups, Fellowship, Worship, and 3) Non-Traditional Format – Worship, Fellowship with Life Groups whenever and wherever the individual group chooses to meet.

You may recall that before I came to Frederica, Pastor Jim Staubes led this church to flip its worship and Sunday school times for the summer of 2019.  The desire was to facilitate an increase in class attendance.  The experiment worked and our attendance in Sunday school, what we now call Life Groups, increased by 20%.  The week I started as your full-time pastor you held a meeting and voted to continue holding worship first followed by a time of fellowship and then Sunday school and Life Groups.  Covid, of course, caused us all kinds of logistical issues and those issues were further magnified as we sold portions of our building and constricted our current operational space.  Now that we are moving to a larger space new considerations need to be made.

I have been reading at lot lately on the subjects of church growth and operation.  A few things have been made abundantly clear to me.  First, we shouldn’t allow our traditions and personal comforts to create stumbling blocks to those whom the Lord is drawing to Himself.  In other words, we don’t want to place obstacles before people, making it difficult or inconvenient to hear the saving gospel of Jesus.  Some of those obstacles could be language, dress, location, worship style and format.  Second, our outreach focus must be on those who do not already believe the way we do.  It’s absolutely acceptable to invite your Christian family, friends and neighbors to church but we must be diligent to seek and to save the lost just as Jesus did.  Finally, we must prioritize our Children’s ministry.  This would include our youth and young families.  This does not, on any level, mean we forget or marginalize our other ministries or our senior adults.  In fact, senior adult and men’s ministries are areas we also want to expand.  However, reaching children with the gospel is vital to their eternity and attracting young families to the church is vital to our long-term growth and survival.  Obviously, there are many other factors that affect church growth as well.

In all honesty, over the past few months, I have shifted from one service format option to another then to another.  Again, it cannot be about my personal preference.  It must be about what is best to reach the lost and advance the Kingdom.  At the end of this letter, there will be a link to a survey that will give you the opportunity to share your prayerful thoughts and to weigh in on this discussion.  First, however, let me give you some things to consider.

First, relationships are essential to convincing guests to return.  To help foster those relationships we want to reintroduce a fellowship time during our Sunday morning format.  If our focus is on our guests and creating relationships then it doesn’t really make sense to have this fellowship time before we would expect guests to arrive which would happen if it were held twenty to thirty minutes prior to the main worship service.

Second, we have heard many times from guests with children of their desire for a children’s church.  Cameron and the Children’s Ministry team have determined that this is a program that should be integrated into our Sunday morning format.  The idea is that our children (K-3rd) will stay in the main worship service until just before preaching.  Then they will be escorted to the children’s area for a time of singing, Bible storying and some fun.  This idea flows best if it can then tie in and lead right into their Sunday School time.  It can be done by having Sunday School first, then main worship then Children’s Church but that would mean additional, different curriculum and additional workers for the separate time.

Third, safety and security are always concerns for parents and children. For that reason, families will be required to check in and check out their children into the nursery and other children’s activities. Our current service time format supports this by allowing parents to check their children in and out only once on a Sunday morning.  A traditional format would require children to be checked in, then picked up for fellowship/worship then picked up again after worship.  This would also require families who arrive last minute for worship only to check their children in prior to children’s church.

Fourth, in regards to church growth, the importance of Sunday school and life groups cannot be overstated.  Our experiment with our current format did work and attendance did increase.  It also made it easier to entice guests to stay for Bible study thus strengthening their connection to us and those important relationships.  Returning to a traditional format or moving to a non-traditional format de-emphasizes Bible study groups and makes them easier to skip.

Finally, according to Lifeway Research and Thom Rainier, churches that maintain a traditional eleven o’clock worship service are now in the minority.  This is important to me because I felt that having non-traditional times could be a possible obstacle to guests.  However, research tells us that very few people visit a new church without first visiting their web site and checking their times.  Since traditional times are no longer the norm, the expectation is no longer an obstacle. 

The bottom line is that no matter what we decide there will be some of us who disagree with the decision.  I for one, however, am committed to accept whatever decision is made and work to maintain unity in our body and use our new resources to the glory and multiplication of God’s Kingdom.  I hope that you will join me in that pledge and be joyful with our new opportunities in our new home!

Only by Grace,

Pastor Mike

Click HERE to go to the survey.

 



Deacons

Deacons

Dear Friends,

Much to my embarrassment I completely forgot last summer to request deacon nominations for this coming year.  Honestly, I thought I had done it.  It seems like only yesterday that I was pouring over the list of nominees.  Please forgive this oversight and send in your nominations before the end of Sunday, January 30.  You may do that electronically by clicking on the link in this newsletter or you may drop them in the box provided this Sunday morning.

As your think about who to nominate, please consider the following:

 FrBC Deacon Qualifications:

FrBC Church Constitution:

  • Professing, baptized believer for at least 5 years
  • 25 years or Older
  • An active church member for at least 1 year (12 calendar months)
  • Honorable, true servants of God who encourage unity
  • Conform in character and practice to 1 Tim 3:8-13, Acts 6:1-6

1 Tim. 3:8-13:

  • Male
  • Well Respected
  • Known for Integrity and Honesty
  • Not a lover of money
  • Not heavy drinkers
  • Committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ (born-again)
  • Have a clear conscience (through confession and forgiveness of sins)
  • Their wives should be well respected, not slanderers (gossips) exhibiting self-control and faithfulness in all they do.
  • Faithful to one wife
  • Manages his children and household well.

Acts 6:1-7:

  • Servant
  • Leader
  • Protector of the pastor’s time and ministry
  • Teacher
  • Evangelist
  • Bold witness

 

 

 

Additional Scriptural Considerations:

Titus 3:

  • Subject to rulers and authorities (Law abiding)
  • Obedient
  • Devoted to doing good
  • Not a slanderer / gossip (honest)
  • Peaceful, Considerate and Humble (not argumentative)
  • Willing and able to confront sin in the congregation

Acts 20:17-21

  • Servant Attitude
  • Transparent Integrity
  • Godly Character
  • Faithful Biblical Teacher

Other Logical Considerations:

  • Hold fast to the Truth and Reliability of God’s Word above all
  • Regular Attenders (as much as possible) to FrBC services and events
  • Financial supporters of FrBC in accordance with Biblical mandate
  • Promoters and supporters of FrBC, its pastor and ministries
  • A unifier not a divider
  • Reliable

These are the qualities that I will be considering as I move through the list of nominations that you, the church body, provide.  I trust that you will make your nominations carefully and prayerfully.

Again, I am sorry that this important operation in our church life was missed.  I’ve already put it on my calendar for next year!  Thank you for taking the time to consider the men of our church and to nominate those whom you feel will faithfully fulfil the office of deacon.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike