This is Hope

This is Hope

Dear Friends,

I love everything that VBS brings to a church! I love the outreach, the education and the way it pulls everyone together in service! I just don’t love leading in it.  I prefer being in the background.  I’ve been told that I was born an adult.  I find that most of my humor works best with grown-ups.  It just goes over kid’s heads.  One on one I’m ok, but stand me before a group of kids and all I see is torches and pitchforks!  So, when I was told that I was expected to do the opening for VBS every day… Well, this is the most uncomfortable I’ve been since I came to FrBC.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, right?

Anyway, as I write this, I just finished day one.  I don’t know for sure but I don’t think there has ever been a pastor who has been taken down due to a VBS revolt of six and seven-year-olds.  So, I imagine that I’ll make it through the week unscathed.  They still scare me though.

The theme verse for our VBS this year is Philippians 1:6. As I was reading it with the kids I thought, “Wow, that’s a great promise that we don’t think about enough!”  Then I thought, “Maybe the day of Christ Jesus will be today and I won’t have to face those 50 kids tomorrow!”  Ok, ok… assuming that’s not the case, let’s explore this promise so that we can move forward in life with confidence!

Philippians 1:6
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion                           until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 

“Being confident of this…” Why is Paul so confident? Confidence is defined as, “The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; a firm trust.”  Paul is confident because he knows the God whom he serves. He knows God to be faithful, who chose and pursued him for salvation. He knows God has been with him through persecutions and trials, and he is sure that God will bring his faith to completion.

 

All believers’ have spiritual lives that began with God – “He who began a good work in you.” God called us, He spoke our individual names and He had a plan for each of our lives before He spoke our names. There is nothing that we did to gain our salvation and the good work that began in us is only possible because God is at work in us. What is that good work? It’s our redemption!  With His blood He purchased our old, dead, worthless selves and made us new in Christ. We didn’t choose Him; He chose us and began the work! There is nothing we did to start this process.

Since God is the one who chose us and began the good work in us. He will “carry it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” Our life is not complete, the good work in us is ongoing.  God is not a supernatural watchmaker who wound up the universe and then went away to work on something else.  He never leaves us. He is constantly working in us even when we feel fear or fall flat on our face and mess everything up. We can be confident in God who promises to continue to work in us.  It’s not left up to us to complete our salvation by works we do on our own. No, God is working and will continue to work until Jesus returns. He started the work in us and God always finishes what He starts.

Well, it just occurred to me that if anyone is reading this, Christ has probably not yet returned and I had to see VBS all the way through to the end.  If that’s the case, I have confidence that He will be with me carrying on the good work that he started in me when He saved me.  Hopefully the kids don’t rise up in protest to the boring old dude leading the pledges.  If they do… tell Becky and Lara that I was right!

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Discipleship

Discipleship

Dear Friends,

As I continue to pray about and think about what our post-Covid church might look like, it occurs to me that the mission of the church, making disciples, will remain the same.  How we do that (programs and practice) will almost certainly need to change to meet the evolving needs and demands of the people we are trying to disciple.  Our challenge, as a church, is to not carry over anything from our pre-Covid practice into our post-Covid practice that hinders or eliminates our mission.

During our ongoing studies in the Gospel of Luke we are constantly seeing Jesus’ teaching and interaction with His followers.  We have even seen how Jesus chose and separated disciples who were advancing in their maturity for increased levels of instruction, experience and ultimately apostolic responsibility.  It was this master plan of discipleship that led to the establishment and vitality of the early church.  We here at Frederica Baptist stand at the crossroad of what was and what will be.  Our past is a tale of faithfulness and marching towards a God-given vision of establishing a new church on the north end of St. Simon’s Island that stands on the Word of God.  That vision is about to be realized!  It is time that we cast a new vision for the next leg of our journey.  That vision must be seen through the lens of our mission, making disciples. So, it behooves us to understand what it is to be a mature disciple.

(1) Mature disciples know God’s plan for salvation. In their hearts they know that they are slaves in bondage to terrible enemies: sin and death.  They see that they stand helpless and hopeless to save themselves so they need a rescuer—Jesus, our savior and redeemer.  Mature disciples acknowledge that Jesus exchanges His righteousness for our unrighteousness when He took on our sins at the cross.  He gives his followers eternal freedom from the just punishment for our sins and adopts us as sons and daughters into the family of God to be joint heirs of His kingdom.

(2) Mature disciples know the God that they serve. They recognize that He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.  They see that God wants a relationship with them.  Mature disciples never stop striving to learn what God is like from His revelation in the Bible and in creation around us. They view the Bible as the story of God’s relationship with his people over the millennia, and they see his workmanship throughout the world around them.

(3) Mature disciples choose their identity in Christ over who this world says they should be. Rather than focusing on who they are, they focus on whose they are. They affirm that God created them in his own image to be his representatives here on earth.  They rejoice that Christ came and died on the cross to offer them a new and redeemed identity.   

(4) Mature disciples serve out of love. Scripture paints a clear picture for how we should treat our fellow human beings. In Zechariah 7, the prophet chastised God’s people for going through the religious motions then treating others poorly. Immature disciples may serve others when it’s convenient or when it makes them look and feel good. But mature disciples follow Jesus’ example with continuous service. They serve others by taking God’s love for people and making it their own.

(5) Mature disciples eagerly share their faith story.  The Good News of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift we can receive. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are adopted as God’s children. We are made holy, receive the Spirit, and enter into an eternal loving relationship with our Lord.  Mature disciples follow Jesus’ instruction to share his Good News with others: “Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Mature disciples desire that the transformation experienced in their own lives occur in the lives of others as well.  So, they share the good news and how it shaped their story of faith with those who need to hear it most.

(6) Mature disciples worship regardless of circumstance.  Their hearts are aware of God’s constant presence, and they can’t help but marvel at his glory.  Mature disciples see worship as a lifestyle. Their worship is not dependent on location, music style, or any other external factor. Mature disciples worship God even during tough times because they know that God is always worthy of praise.

(7) Mature believers defend their faith, their hope in Christ, just as the Bible encourages us to do: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Mature disciples are equipped to communicate God’s truth in a world that is hostile towards Him. They don’t share God’s truth in an overbearing way, but they display a confidence and a willingness to unashamedly and respectfully engage our culture.

(8) Mature disciples don’t take the journey of discipleship alone. When we’re adopted as children of God, we gain millions of spiritual siblings who are on the same journey.  Whenever Scripture describes the life of a disciple, it’s in the context of a community of faith. Mature disciples seek unity and community with other growing disciples.

Each of us must individually evaluate the maturity of our discipleship.  Being a disciple of Christ is a life-long journey.  As a church we are called to help each other and those outside our walls to draw closer to Christ.  I hope each of you will pray with me as we look forward to the next steps in the growth of our mission.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike

 



Stumbling Blocks

Stumbling Blocks

Dear Friends,

Recently, I have been thinking about ways that we as a church and as individual Christians inadvertently discourage people from encountering the saving message of the gospel.  I know that sounds crazy because we are called to be light and salt to the world around us (Matt. 5:13-16).  My guess is that none of us consciously want to exclude anyone from interacting with the redeeming love of Christ.  I am sure that, like me, it is your desire that everyone experience the amazing saving grace of Jesus just like we have!  That’s why I think it is so vital that from time to time we evaluate our lives and practices to make sure that we are not unwittingly placing stumbling blocks in front of the very ones we are trying to lead to the Lord.

Most of the time in the Bible, a “stumbling block” refers to something or someone who keeps another from a relationship with God. In Matt. 18:5-7, Jesus says, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”   We don’t want to be that guy!

Stumbling blocks also arise in unintended ways. The mature Christian life allows some freedoms that seem contrary to an obedient, disciplined faith. The Corinthians were concerned about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Modern issues include drinking alcohol in moderation or dancing. “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 18:9). Our liberty is not worth another’s walk with God. If something God allows would lead another to sin, we need to avoid it. We are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to consider others’ welfare over our own.

As a church we may create stumbling blocks to the unchurched as well.  These are things that make it difficult for people to walk through the doors and find a seat in order to hear the gospel.  For example, I believe our current location is a stumbling block to many.  Insufficient parking can be a stumbling block or poor directional signage.  How we present ourselves in print or on the radio may cause people to stumble in their walk to the cross.  Once people are inside the doors there are many more opportunities for stumbling blocks.

Can we as a church remove everything that may be a stumbling block to the non-believer?  Probably not, but the more we are able to tackle and remove, the more salvations we will eventually see.  The problem is that many of these stumbling blocks to others are personal preferences of our own.  These are the when, where and how we like things done in church and worship.  What are we willing to sacrifice for the salvation of souls?  How much was our Lord willing to sacrifice?

Refraining from being or creating a stumbling block and removing existing stumbling blocks is essential to our commission. How we accomplish this depends on our concern for others and the hearts of those around us. The security we have in God’s love and provision, both now and eternally, allows us to show concern to those who are weaker and those who need specific encouragement to understand who God is. In some situations, we may need to sacrifice our freedoms to build up weaker believers and not confuse non-believers. 

As a church, we need to be attentive to society around us and consider cultural changes and biases.  In various ways, Jesus, Paul, John and James, all tell us that we are not to be of this world but we are in this world as ambassadors of the Kingdom.  Without sacrificing Biblical truth or godly morality we need to be palatable and attractive to the lost all around us.  That is being “salt” so that we might share the “light.”  The light, of course, is the gospel and the gospel is the only stumbling block that we should want the lost to encounter.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike 



Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Dear Friends,

Memorial Day weekend is just days away.  Today, most people see this as the start of the summer holiday season but it was originally meant as a somber reminder that freedom comes at great cost.  Throughout the history of our country brave men and women have died protecting our freedom, our way of life, in the armed forces. Their sacrifice is what we commemorate on this last weekend of May.

To our national shame, many in our country have forgotten or take for granted the lives that have purchased the freedoms that we so enjoy.  They mock and belittle the sacrifices made on foreign soil so that they would have the right to speak freely with such ignorance about those who fought and died on their behalf without even knowing who they are.

A hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds.  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes with differing personalities.  Heroes, I believe, are made in an instant of decision.  That decision is usually about putting the needs of others above their own, counting the lives and welfare of others as greater than their own and worthy of sacrifice.  It is a decision of humility.

Soldiers in the various branches of the United States Military lay down their lives again and again in the name of freedom.  These men and women choose to make the ultimate sacrifice not just for their country, but for their friends and family as well.  In John 15:13, Jesus called that type of sacrifice a love that surpasses all others.  “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus showed that same selfless love when He suffered and died to save mankind from their sin.  In response to that sacrifice and out of gratitude for it we as Christians are called upon to follow Him as soldiers of His kingdom, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus… his [the soldier’s] aim is to please the one who enlisted him” 2 Tim. 2:3-4.

From the very earliest days of the church, believers have put on the “armor of God” (Eph. 5:10-18) and have marched into the enemy lines, fighting for the eternal lives of others they may never meet.  Thousands die each and every year for the cause of Christ unknown, unsung, without memorial. 

There’s a reward for them beyond this life, however.  King David understood that this world is but a temporary posting for a soldier of the Lord.  He wrote in Psalm 27:3-4 “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.  One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

This weekend, while you are getting ready for school to be out and vacations to begin, take a moment to remember those who have fought and died so that others, in this country, can go on living and enjoying freedom.  These men and women who have laid down their lives in active duty will never return to their family and friends, nor would they see the day that the fighting came to an end.  Our freedoms have been won and protected at great cost.  Never take them, or the men and women who continue to meet threats both foreign and domestic, for granted. Never forget.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Getting Older

Getting Older

Dear Friends,

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw a friend suggestion for someone I knew from High School.  He was the starting quarterback and homecoming king and he dated the cheerleading captain and homecoming queen.  I sat there staring at his picture and I thought, “Wow, he really looks old.”  Then I remembered what I looked like in the mirror that morning!

We are preparing for Graduate Recognition this Sunday, May 23rd.  This type of service always makes me feel old.  I mean, most of these graduates were born in the 21st century (after the year 2000).  I was born fairly close to the middle of the 20th century.  That’s a little depressing!

The Bible presents growing old as a normal, natural part of life in this world. The Bible even attaches honor to the aging process, because growing old is normally accompanied by increased wisdom and experience. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” That’s actually becoming one of my favorite verses!   God wants us to remember that life is short and that the beauty of youth is soon gone according to 1 Peter 1:24, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon provides an insightful look at aging and the issues related to it.  He tells us that we are born with a natural tendency to “live for the moment,” but ultimately there is futility in that approach.   As people grow older and begin to feel the increasing impact of their mortality, they typically try to invest their resources in projects that to them seem to hold more promise of lasting meaning in life, they want to leave a legacy.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict what will have lasting value and significance in the future. This, according to Solomon, can lead to disillusionment and despair when we realize the meaninglessness of our earthly toil “under the sun.” 

The book concludes with a charge to reject the wisdom of men and the pursuits of this life and to adopt an eternal perspective in the face of life’s brevity and injustice.  Why spend your life pursuing pleasure, wealth, success, wisdom, even religion?  What should we do? “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13b).  The rest, God will take care of when He brings “every deed into judgement” (Eccl. 12:14a).

With our inevitable disillusionment over the human condition, our universal depravity and mortality, it is wise to remember that “Anyone who is among the living has hope…” (Eccl. 9:4a).  The living still have time to acknowledge God and to take joyful advantage of all their gifts, talents, wisdom, and opportunities in life, before all ability to do so has ceased, before death or disability closes the door on those opportunities.

Growing old is not so bad if we are engaged in our God-given purpose.  Of course, our purpose is only fulfilled in Christ, God’s promised Savior. While this earthly life may seem less fair for some than for others, at the final judgment, when we receive our inheritance for the way we invest what God has given us, we will see God as surpassingly fair in His rewards.

Mark Twain used to say, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”  God has made us who we are, placed us where we are and gifted us with the resources we have.  Our pursuit of purpose should always have Christ at the center regardless of our age.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Time

Time

 

Dear Friends,

It’s been said that time is our most precious commodity.  There is never enough and once spent, it can never be replaced.  From an earthly perspective this is true.  The saying, “Time flies,” is a truism of the swiftness of the passage of time, particularly the older we get.   King David pointed out in Psalm 39:4-5, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” James the brother of Jesus said this about our lives in James 4:14, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  Yes, our time on earth is fleeting, in fact, it is infinitely small compared to eternity. To live as God would have us live, it is essential we make the best possible use of the time we are given here on Earth.

To that end, Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  A good way to gain wisdom is to learn to live each day with an eternal perspective.  Knowing that on Judgement Day we will have to give an account to the One who gives us time should motivate us to use it well. C. S. Lewis understood this and wrote, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next.”

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul cautioned his readers, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).  Living wisely involves using our time carefully. Knowing that the harvest is great and the workers are few and that time is running out should help us make better use of our time to witness, both through our words and our example.

The responsibilities and pressures of this world call for our attention and try to distract us.  Thousands of voices pull us in different directions and makes it easy for our time to get swallowed up in mundane, lesser matters. Unfortunately, things that have eternal value, often get pushed aside.

As followers of Jesus, we are charged to give our best to everything to which God has called us. In all of our relationships, our work, our studies, serving others, the little details of our lives, caring for the health of our bodies, even in rest and recreation, our primary focus should be on God. He is the One who gave us this time on earth, and He is the One who directs how we spend it.

The Bible counsels us to place our focus on that which is eternal as opposed to the fleeting pleasures of this passing world. Time spent with God and getting to know Him, through reading His Word and prayer, is never wasted. Time spent building up the body of Christ and loving others with God’s love is always time well spent. Time invested in sharing the gospel so that others will come to know salvation in Jesus, bears eternal fruit.  We should live as if each minute counts, because it really does.  Jesus said in John 9:4 “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; for night is coming, when no one can work.

Only by Grace,

Pastor Mike



Heartbroken

Heartbroken

Dear Friends,

Many of you have known heartache.  We tend to use the term heartbroken today to describe the crushing grief, anguish or distress that we feel when we lose a loved one or suffer a failed relationship.  In fact, a broken heart may be brought on by any number of other things such as disappointment in a child’s lifestyle, loss of a cherished possession, loss of a job, even the loss of reputation. Whatever the cause, the pain of a broken heart can be enormous.

I did a Google search on “how to heal a broken heart” and the responses were many, varied, sometimes humorous and sometimes sad.  Write an angry letter and tear it up. Go on a shopping spree or get a makeover.  Drink… a lot.  Eat chocolate, make new friends and see a therapist were some suggestions.  Some advocated the power of positive thinking. The most common suggestion is to give it time. What I notice about these suggestions is that all they are doing is numbing or distracting from the pain.  (Some may even lead to future pain.)  However, the Bible tells us in Psalm 147:3 that we have access to a loving Heavenly Father and “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

While not the earliest Biblical record of heartbreak, Job’s life is certainly the most extensively explored.  In one day, Job lost his children, almost all worldly possessions, his health, and his means of livelihood. His response in Job 1:20-21 was, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”   Job grieved his losses but he also worshiped God and remained faithful. Listen, Job had doubts about God’s goodness and why these terrible things happened to him.  But by remaining faithful to God, he grew closer to Him as God revealed Himself to Job through his trials.  Job learned that God is faithful and good and trustworthy.  He is with us in our heartbreak.

David, is described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart.  Even so, he suffered many heartbreaking circumstances. Admittedly, most were the circumstances of his own sin but each time he recovered and was an even stronger man of God.  David wrote Psalm 34 during a very low time in his life.  He talks about overcoming heartache by calling on the Lord. He says in 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” David knew in 34:18 that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Finally, he expressed a confidence in the love of God that every believer should have in 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

I have sat with many hurting people who in their despair ask, “If God loves me so much how could He let this happen?”  Or, “God hates me, He doesn’t care about me!”  The sad truth is that most of the calamity in life is of our own doing.  If not ours personally than as a result of sin that entered into the world because of man’s rebellion against God.  However, even with that sober realization, we have the promise of God’s Word in Romans 8:32 which states, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” The writer of Hebrews was inspired by God to comfort believers with the promise that God “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). The Apostle Paul knew that God is always near to comfort the believer so he wrote in 2 Cor. 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.”  

Throughout the Biblical record, God never failed to deliver when His people cried out to Him, and He will not fail the heartbroken Christian who cries out to Him today. He may not always answer exactly in the way we would like, but He always answers according to His perfect will and timing.  Sometimes, like Paul, we must remember that God is glorified in our weakness and His grace alone is sufficient to sustain us (2 Cor. 12:9).

Hurt is a part of this life.  Heartbreak is something that most if not all of us will encounter during our stay on this earth.  God promises those who trust in Him a freedom from hurt and pain when we are glorified with Him.  Rev. 21:4 promises, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  I hope you find joy in the promises of God.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Ecumenism

Ecumenism

Dear Friends,

From time to time, we as a church or as individuals are invited to participate in a community faith event or service that is billed as being ecumenical.  Ecumenism can be defined as “the organized attempt to bring about cooperation and unity among Christians.” It can also be defined more broadly: “a movement that promotes worldwide unity among all religions through greater cooperation.” Let’s deal with this second definition first.  This would be exemplified by a Christian minister inviting a Muslim imam to speak from his pulpit, or a church gathering together with a Hindu temple to hold a joint prayer service. Defined this way, ecumenism is decidedly and Biblically wrong. We are not to be “yoked together with unbelievers”. That’s right, that passage has a marriage application but it is not about who you marry.  The passage in 2 Cor. 6:14-15 goes on to say, ”… For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (Belial is an intertestamental name used for Satan.)

So, what about working with and promoting unity with other Christians?  Should we be involved with other Christians in joint ventures locally, nationally, or internationally? The answer is not black and white. Biblically, unity among true Christians is important according to the words of Jesus in John 17:22 “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” But what if some of those who profess Christianity actually deny certain fundamentals of the faith? Del Tackett of the Truth Project said, “something that is 95% true is still a lie.” Do we want to lend our credence to anyone or any group that teaches lies?  For that reason, each situation must be considered individually.

We must ask, are those we are joining with truly Christians in the biblical sense of the word? Many people and organizations claim to be Christians but clearly reject what the Bible says about the nature and work of Jesus. Obvious examples of this are Mormon and Jehovah’s Witnesses.  A not-so-obvious example is liberal Christians and churches. Liberal Christianity is found in almost every denomination, and, although it may seem Christian, it usually rejects several essential truths such as the inspiration and authority of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16), that salvation is found in none other but Christ alone (John 14:6) and the total dependence upon God’s grace, apart from human works, for salvation (Eph 2:8-9).  This would also make any joint mission with a Roman Catholic Church impossible due to the list of irreconcilable differences between what the Bible says and what the Roman Catholic Church says on many theological and practical issues. 

Often, however, we must look at the goals of an ecumenical venture.  Many times, we passionately hold similar ideals with groups who hold to un-Biblical theology.  Things like sanctity of human (unborn) life, care for the homeless and sick, traditional family values or justice in the world.  Scripture clearly tells Bible-believing Christians what our life living goals should be in Col. 3:17, “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  When we interact with lost people, Jesus made it clear in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) that the gospel and making disciples is to always be our top priority.

When considering ecumenical cooperation, we need to ask whether the gospel is being clearly presented and will God be glorified by our participation.  God has not called us to be His ambassadors for political, social, financial or environmental messages.  The ultimate goal of our actions should be the salvation of lost sinners.  Think about this, the Bible says that the angels of heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10). There is nothing in the Bible that says the angels rejoice when a law is passed, when a well is dug, or even when a church is built.  Now, there is nothing wrong with accomplishing those things, but they cannot be allowed to overshadow the gospel. 

So, should we get involved in community faith events or ecumenical endeavors?  Sure we can, as long as there is no doctrinal compromise on core Biblical beliefs and as long as the gospel is not being watered-down or sidelined.  If we can proudly wear the event t-shirt and maintain a clear testimony before the world, and if God is glorified, then we may freely and joyfully join with other believers in serving God’s kingdom.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



Death

Death

Dear Friends,

The Bible presents death as separation: physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God.

Death is the result of sin. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 3:23). The whole world is subject to death, because all have sinned. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). After Creation, the Lord warned Adam that the penalty for disobedience would be death, “you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). When Adam disobeyed, he experienced immediate spiritual death, which caused him to hide “from Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gen 3:8). Later, Adam experienced physical death (Gen. 5:5).

On the cross, Jesus also experienced physical death (Mat. 27:50). The difference is that Adam died because he was a sinner, and Jesus, who had never sinned, chose to die as a substitute for sinners (Heb. 2:9). Jesus then showed His power over death and sin by rising from the dead on the third day (Mat. 28; Rev. 1:18). Because of Christ, death is a defeated foe. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:55).

For the unsaved, death brings to an end the opportunity to accept God’s gracious free offer of salvation. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). For the saved, death ushers us into the presence of Christ: “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). So real is the promise of the believer’s resurrection that the physical death of a Christian is called “sleep” (1 Cor. 15:51).

Sleep is temporary not permanent.  As believers we should consider everything from the perspective of eternity. An eternity of life!  That’s why Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 that we should not be “uninformed” about what happens to those who fall asleep, who die here on earth.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, their death, our death, is not permanent but temporary like sleep. When Jesus comes again, He will bring our loved ones who died trusting in Christ alone with Him!  We will be caught up into the air with them.  What a glorious reunion that will be!  He finishes by saying we should “encourage each other with these words.”

Physical death is a sad thing for those loved ones left behind.  I can surely attest to that!  However, we can be encouraged with the hope that we will not be separated from those we love for all eternity if they trusted in Christ alone as their Savior.  We look forward to that time when “there shall be no more death” (Rev. 21:4).

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike

 



A Great Day!

A Great Day!

Dear Friends,

What an exciting time we had this past Easter Sunday!  The Sunrise service at the new building was amazing!  We had 112 people, many of whom were not from FrBC but had responded to advertisements and invitations to join us.  Our deacons did a great job cleaning up and getting the property safe and ready.  They also were excellent parking guides and greeters.  Several other men of the church helped as well for a combined effort that was special and meaningful.

Our 9:30am service was full as well with 121 people.  Again, many were guests!  The music was phenomenal and really lifted me up in worship.  Cameron led his first youth life group with 12 youth in attendance.  At 4pm several of us watched as he baptized a young man from his previous church at East Beach while Paul led us in singing amidst the crowds enjoying the sunshine.  All around, a great day!

I continue to be amazed at the speed with which the walls are going up on the new building.  There is still some inner framing that needs to be done in the youth and children’s area but now you can really see everything taking shape.  My understanding is that the roof trusses will begin arriving over the next few weeks.  Several of our charter members were obviously overwhelmed as we conducted our first worship service inside the walls of a building they have dreamed and prayed about for so many years.  If you have not been out to the Marsh’s Edge property lately, I encourage you to go take a look.  It will lift your heart!

Our home groups continue to meet and our attendance numbers are really standing strong.  It is my conviction that we must use this platform to reach out to and impact our neighborhoods.  This is first and foremost a kingdom effort.  Our desire must be to “seek and to save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).  If we are faithful to God’s goal, He will be faithful to our goal of growing and strengthening our church both numerically and spiritually.  To do that we must divide and expand our current groups.  It is so very easy to get comfortable with the way things are.  However, the history of Frederica Baptist Church would demonstrate that when we step out of our comfort zones the Lord blesses in surprising ways!  If any of you are willing to facilitate your own home group, please let me know so I can help you get started.  You won’t be alone!

Kudos to our ladies who coordinate our Tree House program.  The faithfulness and creativity with which they continue to build this ministry is inspiring!  This is not only a vehicle for the gospel but it is a wonderful community building endeavor.  Whenever Amy and I deliver bags, goodies or materials to some of the kids, their parents are always overwhelming with their gratitude for what they and their children are receiving.  On Sunday, April 25 our Tree House kids will perform in our worship service.  We are hoping that their parents will join them as well.  Make sure you are there to support them and to greet our guests.

This Sunday, we will take another step in our return to normalizing our church services.  We will move to making masks optional for those who choose not to wear them.  Please don’t allow that to dissuade you from attending.  If you want the added protection of a mask, please wear one.  The number of Covid-19 cases in Glynn County continues to go down and more and more people are being vaccinated.  Hopefully we will not see a dramatic spike in cases after spring break.  After consulting with Church Council, it was decided that we could safely take this step.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike



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