Newsletter – May 3, 2020

Serving during COVID 19

Transportation for Cancer Patients

As many of you know, Travis (one of our members) works at a cancer therapy center in Flint. Due to the spread of the COVID 19 virus transportation options for cancer patients has been difficult to find. There are now two patients that need transportation to Proton Therapy Center in Flint for Cancer Treatments. One of these patients lives in the Grand Blanc area and another patient lives in the Lapeer area.  If you are able and willing to drive either of these patient to their appointments, your help would be a tremendous blessing to them. We have also had a few individuals offer to help cover the cost of gas for those who are driving. If you would like to help but need assistance with fuel costs, please contact Pastor Jonathan.
 
Grand Blanc Patient (HAVE SEVERAL SPOTS AVAILABLE STARTING ON WEDNESDAY OF THIS WEEK): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-transportation1
 

Giving Blood and Volunteer with the American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Volunteers Needed: Contact Colleen @ 810-513-0224

Give Blood: Schedule appointment @ redcrossblood.org
 

Volunteer with Carriage Town Ministries

Carriage Town Ministies is in need of volunteers for their Health Screen Clinic

Contact Tamela Rigg at Trigg@carriagetown.org
 

Facebook Live Services, Zoom Meetings, and Youtube Videos

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
We are also now uploading our services, after they have streamed on Facebook, to our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLVBHAG8qvEwlfYbySfkz8w Please be aware that it may take a few days of the upload to Youtube to be completed.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. One such avenue this week is the following:

Thursday Prayer Gathering

Thursday at 6:30 pm we will have an opportunity to gather for prayer as we look at all the Lord is doing through these unique days. We will gather through the Zo0m app. Again, details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page later this week.
 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



Newsletter – April 26, 2020

To save you from having to read through the entire newsletter, you should know that there are not many updates to the newsletter from last week. We do hope you know that we (both the Pastors and the rest of the congregation) are longing to gather back together again, and we are praying for you. If you have a need please do not hesitate to reach out.

Serving during COVID 19

We recognize that many in our church family have been finding unique ways to serve and care for one another. This has been a joy to see and a joy to receive the acts of love performed by Christ’s saints. We would encourage you to continue to consider how we can continue to challenge one another to “love and good works” during these unusual days. In addition to your spontaneous works for God’s glory, here are some additional opportunities where you could serve the Lord in the days ahead.

Transportation for Cancer Patients

As many of you know, Travis (one of our members) works at a cancer therapy center in Flint. Due to the spread of the COVID 19 virus transportation options for cancer patients has been difficult to find. There are now two patients that need transportation to Proton Therapy Center in Flint for Cancer Treatments. One of these patients lives in the Grand Blanc area and another patient lives in the Lapeer area.  If you are able and willing to drive either of these patient to their appointments, your help would be a tremendous blessing to them. We have also had a few individuals offer to help cover the cost of gas for those who are driving. If you would like to help but need assistance with fuel costs, please contact Pastor Jonathan.
 
Lapper Patient (ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT TO FILL): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-transportation 
 

Giving Blood and Volunteer with the American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Volunteers Needed: Contact Colleen @ 810-513-0224

Give Blood: Schedule appointment @ redcrossblood.org
 

Volunteer with Carriage Town Ministries

Carriage Town Ministies is in need of volunteers for their Health Screen Clinic

Contact Tamela Rigg at Trigg@carriagetown.org
 

Facebook Live Services, Zoom Meetings, and Youtube Videos

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
We are also now uploading our services, after they have streamed on Facebook, to our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLVBHAG8qvEwlfYbySfkz8w Please be aware that it may take a few days of the upload to Youtube to be completed.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. One such avenue this week is the following:

Thursday Prayer Gathering

Thursday at 6:30 pm we will have an opportunity to gather for prayer as we look at all the Lord is doing through these unique days. We will gather through the Zo0m app. Again, details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page later this week.
 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



Newsletter – April 19, 2020

Serving during COVID 19

We recognize that many in our church family have been finding unique ways to serve and care for one another. This has been a joy to see and a joy to receive the acts of love performed by Christ’s saints. We would encourage you to continue to consider how we can continue to challenge one another to “love and good works” during these unusual days. In addition to your spontaneous works for God’s glory, here are some additional opportunities where you could serve the Lord in the days ahead.

Transportation for Cancer Patients

As many of you know, Travis (one of our members) works at a cancer therapy center in Flint. Due to the spread of the COVID 19 virus transportation options for cancer patients has been difficult to find. There are now two patients that need transportation to Proton Therapy Center in Flint for Cancer Treatments. One of these patients lives in the Grand Blanc area and another patient lives in the Lapeer area.  If you are able and willing to drive either of these patient to their appointments, your help would be a tremendous blessing to them. We have also had a few individuals offer to help cover the cost of gas for those who are driving. If you would like to help but need assistance with fuel costs, please contact Pastor Jonathan.
 
 

Giving Blood and Volunteer with the American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Volunteers Needed: Contact Colleen @ 810-513-0224

Give Blood: Schedule appointment @ redcrossblood.org
 

Volunteer with Carriage Town Ministries

Carriage Town Ministies is in need of volunteers for their Health Screen Clinic

Contact Tamela Rigg at Trigg@carriagetown.org
 

Facebook Live Services, Zoom Meetings, and Youtube Videos

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
We are also now uploading our services, after they have streamed on Facebook, to our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLVBHAG8qvEwlfYbySfkz8w Please be aware that it may take a few days of the upload to Youtube to be completed.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. One such avenue this week is the following:

Thursday Prayer Gathering

Thursday at 6:30 pm we will have an opportunity to gather for prayer as we look at all the Lord is doing through these unique days. We will gather through the Zo0m app. Again, details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page later this week.
 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



Newsletter – April 12, 2020

Christ is Risen!

May we rejoice this morning in the glorious reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave.

“It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Ro 4:24–5:5).

 

Serving during COVID 19

We recognize that many in our church family have been finding unique ways to serve and care for one another. This has been a joy to see and a joy to receive the acts of love performed by Christ’s saints. We would encourage you to continue to consider how we can continue to challenge one another to “love and good works” during these interesting days. In addition to your spontaneous works for God’s glory, here are some additional opportunities where you could serve the Lord in the days ahead.

Transportation for Cancer Patients

As many of you know, Travis (one of our members) works at a cancer therapy center in Flint. Due to the spread of the COVID 19 virus transportation options for cancer patients has been difficult to find. One such patient is in need of transportation from Lapeer to the Proton Therapy Center in Flint. Proton Therapy is located at 4100 Beecher Rd., Flint, Mi 48532. If you are able and willing to drive this patient to her appointments, your help would be a tremendous blessing to her in her hour of need. You can sign-up at SignupGenius here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-transportation 
 
We have also had a few individuals offer to help cover the cost of gas for those who are driving. If you would like to help but need assistance with fuel costs, please contact Pastor Jonathan.

Giving Blood and Volunteer with the American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Volunteers Needed: Contact Colleen @ 810-513-0224

Give Blood: Schedule appointment @ redcrossblood.org
 

Volunteer with Carriage Town Ministries

Carriage Town Ministies is in need of volunteers for their Health Screen Clinic

Contact Tamela Rigg at Trigg@carriagetown.org
 

Facebook Live Services, Zoom Meetings, and Youtube Videos

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
We are also now uploading our services, after they have streamed on Facebook, to our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLVBHAG8qvEwlfYbySfkz8w Please be aware that it may take a few days of the upload to Youtube to be completed.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. One such avenue this week is the following:

Thursday Prayer Gathering

Thursday at 6:30 pm we will have an opportunity to gather for prayer as we look at all the Lord is doing through these unique days. We will gather through the Zo0m app. Again, details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page later this week.
 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



Newsletter – April 5, 2020

Serving during COVID 19

We recognize that many in our church family have been finding unique ways to serve and care for one another. This has been a joy to see and a joy to receive the acts of love performed by Christ’s saints. We would encourage you to continue to consider how we can continue to challenge one another to “love and good works” during these interesting days. In addition to your spontaneous works for God’s glory, here are some additional opportunities where you could serve the Lord in the days ahead.

Transportation for Cancer Patients

As many of you know, Travis (one of our members) works at a cancer therapy center in Flint. Due to the spread of the COVID 19 virus transportation options for cancer patients has been difficult to find. One such patient is in need of transportation from Lapeer to the Proton Therapy Center in Flint. Proton Therapy is located at 4100 Beecher Rd., Flint, Mi 48532. If you are able and willing to drive this patient to her appointments, your help would be a tremendous blessing to her in her hour of need. You can sign-up at SignupGenius here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-transportation
 
We have also had a few individuals offer to help cover the cost of gas for those who are driving. If you would like to help but need assistance with fuel costs, please contact Pastor Jonathan.

Giving Blood and Volunteer with the American Red Cross

American Red Cross

Volunteers Needed: Contact Colleen @ 810-513-0224

Give Blood: Schedule appointment @ redcrossblood.org
 

Volunteer with Carriage Town Ministries

Carriage Town Ministies is in need of volunteers for their Health Screen Clinic

Contact Tamela Rigg at Trigg@carriagetown.org
 

Participation in the Celebration of Easter Sunday

This Easter Sunday we will likely celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection in a way unlike any other time we have celebrated His Resurrection. While we may yearn to gather together physically we recognize that the Lord, in His providence, would have us to celebrate His resurrection differently this year. We would ask that you all participate with us through two unique opportunities to celebrate his resurrection. We would like to assemble two videos to share with our church family on Easter Sunday.

Video with Easter Memory

We would ask that each individual or family prepare a 30 second (or less) video sharing with us a memory about Easter or a significant thought you have had about the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. This can be recorded directly through the following website: https://flipgrid.com/29a2993c

Video with Reading of 1 Corinthians

We would also ask that each individual or family participate in reading a portion of 1 Corinthians 15. Allison will edited the audio and portions of the video together into a meaningful Scripture video that will express our joy over Jesus’ resurrection. For additional information and to signup please utilize the following signup genius: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-easter2
 

Facebook Live Services and Zoom Meetings

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. Two such avenues are listed are the following:

Tuesday Coffee, Check-In, and Devotional

On Tuesday morning grab a cup of coffee and join us as we share updates on our family and spend a few moment in the Lord’s word together. This will take place on Tuesday at 10am through Zo0m. Details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page on Monday.

Thursday Prayer Gathering

Thursday at 6:30 pm we will have an opportunity to gather for prayer as we look at all the Lord is doing through these unique days. We will gather through the Zo0m app. Again, details and login information will be posted to our Facebook page later this week.
 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



Newsletter – March 29, 2020

Preparation to Celebrate Easter Sunday

This Easter Sunday we will likely celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection in a way unlike any other time we have celebrated His Resurrection. While we may yearn to gather together physically we recognize that the Lord, in His providence, would have us to celebrate His resurrection differently this year. We would ask that you all participate with us through two unique opportunities to celebrate his resurrection. We would like to assemble two videos to share with our church family on Easter Sunday.

Video with Easter Memory

We would ask that each individual or family prepare a 30 second (or less) video sharing with us a memory about Easter or a significant thought you have had about the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. This can be recorded directly through the following website: https://flipgrid.com/29a2993c

Video with Reading of 1 Corinthians

We would also ask that each individual or family participate in reading a portion of 1 Corinthians 15. Allison will edited the audio and portions of the video together into a meaningful Scripture video that will express our joy over Jesus’ resurrection. For additional information and to signup please utilize the following signup genius: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0b4cada629a4fc1-easter2 
 

Facebook Live Services and Zoom Meetings

Each Sunday at 10 am we will be hosting a Facebook live service on our church Facebook page (here: https://www.facebook.com/BethanyBaptistChurchGrandBlanc/). You should be able to access and view our Facebook Live stream with or without a Facebook account. While we recognize this will never serve as a substitute for our physical gatherings, we hope you will utilize this as an opportunity to continue to grow in the Lord.
 
If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you will also see that we are posting fairly regular gatherings through Zoom and other avenues. 

Online Giving

Bethany’s Council of Elders would like to ask that our church family take a few moments to read the following letter related to our financial giving and ways in which you can give to our fellowship during these unusual days. (here: https://www.bbgb.org/covid-19-giving/). We trust you know that we continue to pray for you as we face these difficult days together.



The Dedication of a Father

 
Father’s Day is a celebration that recognizes the positive impact a father has upon the lives of others. That celebration however, does not happen in a vacuum. In the context of a follower of Jesus, a man must first be dedicated to the Lord, before a proper measurement can be made about his impact as a father or a husband. Tim Challis recently wrote an article about the vigilance that is needed in the Christian life. I would like to apply that article to men specifically this Father’s Day,  that they remain vigilant in their walk with Christ, so that they could be godly men, husbands and fathers, who have a positive impact on the the lives of others. Pastor Chris
 

“We all love to watch the occasional fail video, don’t we? What started years ago on primetime television has migrated to YouTube and become one of our beloved pastimes. Some of my favorites are “finish line fails,” compilations of athletes celebrating just a bit too soon.

In one of these finish line fails, an Olympic runner is nearing the end of his race, still going at a tremendous pace. He has swept around the final turn and is now just 15 or 20 meters from the finish line. Convinced that he has an insurmountable lead, he slows his pace, raises his arms in victory, and coasts toward the tape, savoring the adulation of the roaring crowd. But he has failed to keep a watchful eye on the competition, and another runner is far closer than he thinks. This second place runner sees his opportunity. Digging deep, he summons a last reserve of energy and surges forward. Just a step from the finish line he pushes past to claim the gold, an inch ahead of the careless runner.

As a Christian man, you are running the race of life and looking forward to victory. You are running to win! But like that embarrassed and disappointed Olympic athlete, it is imperative that you do not claim victory too soon. He, too, was running to win, but he let up. He neglected to maintain his pace and neglected to watch out for the competitor who was close behind. The arms that were raised in victory were soon forced to collapse in defeat.

If you are to be victorious in your race, you must maintain your pace all the way to finish line.

So far in our series “Run to Win!” all that we have covered relates to character, to the inner man. I have encouraged you to embrace your purpose, to renew your mind, to know your doctrine, to practice your devotion, and to prioritize your church. These practices are all for growing in godliness, for exhibiting the Christ-like character God so values. In the articles that follow we will transition to the outer man, to areas related to life and relationships. But before we do that, I want to provide a sober call for watchfulness. If you are going to run to win, you need to maintain your vigilance.

Maintain Your Vigilance

I’ve heard it said that what distinguishes a world-class athlete from the hundreds of thousands who never quite make it is situational awareness. Wayne Gretzky remains the greatest hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates, and he often attributes his success to counsel his father gave him when he was a boy: “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” This required more than sheer speed or dexterity, though Gretzky had both in abundance. It required keen observation, constant awareness, and split-second decision-making. Gretzky had a unique sense of how players moved across the ice, how plays developed, and of where the puck would head. Most often, he would get there first, which is why he remains the all-time points leader with no close competition. It’s for good reason that he’s known throughout the hockey world simply as “The Great One.”

If you are going to run your race successfully, you need some of that situational awareness. You need to know that you are in a grueling competition and facing constant challenges from deadly enemies. You need to know where they are most likely to attack and where you are most likely to succumb to their unrelenting temptations. You need to be vigilant, expecting waves of assault and availing yourself of the defenses available to you.

Three Deadly Enemies

There are three great enemies you can be sure you will face from now until the day you break the tape in victory: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Maintain your vigilance against the world
 
We already encountered the biblical concept of “the world” when we looked at the importance of renewing your mind. The world is any system of values and way of living that opposes God and his Word and finds satisfaction in things that are temporal rather than eternal. Those who follow the patterns of the world become obsessed with “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions” (1 John 2:16). They eschew future rewards in favor of fleeting satisfaction and prefer what they can have today to what God promises in the future. Even though you are a Christian, you remain prone to worldly desires and worldly thinking, both of which lead inevitably to worldly living.
Worldliness presses in from around and surges out from within. You cannot avoid it, so must learn to resist it.
The Bible warns you not to love the world, not to befriend it, not to be conformed to it, and not to behave like it. It warns that worldliness is the very opposite of godliness.

Maintain your vigilance against the flesh

The Bible often warns against “the flesh.” As a sinful human being, you are “fleshly”—you have a sinful nature that is opposed to God and craves satisfaction in that which he forbids. “Now the works of the flesh are evident,” says Paul, before providing a representative list: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). When you live according to the flesh, you pursue such odious things. However, when you were saved by God, you were called to live by the Spirit and to begin to display very different attributes. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (22-23). You have a new nature that remains locked in moral combat with the flesh so that the great battle of your life is to put the flesh to death and to come alive to the Spirit. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17).

Maintain your vigilance against the devil

As a Christian, you are also opposed by the devil himself. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Though the world and the flesh are powerful, they are at least inanimate. But the devil is a being who has desires and a mind and a personality. His desire is to destroy you, his mind schemes against you, and his personality is set against you. Just as he custom-crafted temptations to lead David to adultery and Peter to denial, he will custom-craft temptations suited to your weaknesses. His great desire is to promote and expose your sin, to cause you and those around you to doubt your profession of faith.

These are the deadly enemies you face each and every day. They are present and they are strong. Thankfully, though, God provides great defenses with which you can maintain your vigilance.

Three Great Defenses

Maintain your vigilance through prayer

When Paul wrote about the grim reality of spiritual warfare, he instructed Christians to “put on the whole armor of God” and, after explaining the nature of this armor, concluded with a solemn charge: “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:11,18). Vigilance is inseparable from prayer, which is why in another place he says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Jesus himself told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). Prayer is our first great defense against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Pray that God would protect you from their encroachment, and pray equally that he would expose and correct any of your particular temptations to sin.

Maintain your vigilance through self-examination

A second defense against your enemies is self-examination. This is using God’s Word to realistically assess your desires, your temptations, your habits, and your sanctification. You must do this in the light of Scripture, for only it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word tells you what is true about yourself, and you are responsible to heed its warnings.
 
Maintain your vigilance through the means of grace
 
God extends his grace to his people through very ordinary means. It is his good will to conform you to his image and maintain you in that image through Word, prayer, and fellowship. You must read the Word and pray in your home and in your church, in the quietness of your devotions and the chaos of your family, until you can truly say you are “constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). You must enjoy Christian fellowship, primarily in the local church, gathering together to worship, to serve, to hear the Word preached, and to participate in baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
You can trust that it is God’s good pleasure to work through ordinary means to bring about extraordinary holiness.
You cannot expect to thrive in the Christian life or to survive the onslaughts of your enemies if you neglect these most important means.

Do It Now

It is a negligent soldier who neglects his duty to watch when he knows the enemy is nearby. Your enemy is approaching right now, so here are a few ways to get started and then to persevere in vigilance.

  • Pray. Pray and pray and pray.
  • Know your areas of temptation. Where you have experienced and succumbed to temptation before, you are likely to experience it again. You will probably succumb to it again if you have not addressed that weakness of character.
  • Enlist an ally. Tell your spouse or a friend where you battle temptation and enlist them to pray for you and to ask you probing questions. Commit to always answer those questions honestly. In the area of sexual sin and temptation, you will probably benefit from regularly confiding in a brother and allowing him to speak truth into your life.
  • Trust the means of grace. Trust that God has appointed these means rather than others to promote zeal for godliness, to foster godliness, and to preserve godliness to the end. Trust them and take full advantage of them.
  • Prioritize Lord’s Supper. Make the celebration of the Lord’s Supper a special time of self-examination. When you know it is approaching, take the time to carefully examine yourself according to the Bible’s instruction: “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

Conclusion

It is both foolish and perilous to celebrate too early. The world, the flesh, and the devil thrive where there is apathy or pride, where you do not care to maintain watchfulness or where you do not consider it necessary. Conversely, these enemies wither before prayer, self-examination, and the ordinary means of grace. Until the day you are in the presence of the Lord, you must keep up your pace and keep a close eye on your enemies. If you are going to run to win, you must maintain your vigilance.”



Church Growth

Church growth is a hot topic these days. There are countless books, seminars, and blog posts that share with followers of Jesus different ways to advance the Gospel. Over the years I have appreciated Carey Nieuwhof who seems to consistently challenge me in the my thinking about this important subject. Below is a post regarding 5 characteristics of growing churches. As you read the article, please meditate on his points so that they become seeds for future growth in our lives as we strive together for the advancement of the Gospel in the greater Grand Blanc area. Pastor Chris
 
 
 
 
 
 
     “In fact, here are five things that are true about most growing churches.  1). They Are Led by Passionate Leaders:…The passion is contagious…If you’re wondering why your church isn’t excited about its mission, check your pulse. Your church will only ever be as passionate about your ministry as its leaders are….Leaders who criticize more than they contribute never make a lasting impact.  And even if they’re not passionate about criticizing others, they’re likely passionate about something else in the life of leadership other than the mission before them.  2). They’ve Figured Out the Structural Issues That Hold People Back:  This is where structure matters a lot….
Larger growing churches inevitably change their structure to accommodate the people they’re reaching,… 3). They Are Relentlessly Focused on Reaching People Outside Their Walls ;  This is probably the point that gets leaders into the most trouble.   Because as soon as you start obsessing about the people outside your walls that need the Gospel, the people inside your walls start to say ‘what about me?’…Which is exactly why many leaders get scared away from truly focusing on people outside their walls.  Leaders of growing churches realize that criticism comes with the territory.  So how do you deal with the internal criticism? Easy…just get everyone on the same mission. Get everyone to focus on people outside your walls… 4). They’re Willing to Do What It Takes:  Growing churches have a unique culture. Hang out with them long enough and you’ll realize most of them are willing to do whatever it takes…Their leaders have a habit of not just dreaming, but doing.  Others see obstacles. They see opportunities.  They have a tremendously high pain tolerance and consider nothing to be as important as the mission.  If you’re willing to do whatever it takes, it’s amazing what you can accomplish….leaders who look for a guarantee of success never tend to find success.  5). They Refuse to Let the Present Become a Barrier to the Future: Realizing your mission and reaching more people creates its own challenges, not the least of which is your realization that what you’re doing is working. Which ironically can make you biased against further changes.  As we often say around here, success makes you conservative, which is why the greatest enemy of your future success is your current success….many leaders become risk averse.  Churches that continue to reach people push past this…When the only thing that’s sacred is the mission, you tend to realize your mission.
     “These are five things I see growing churches practice…if you want to go deeper, why do you think criticizing the effectiveness of others is such a big pursuit these days?”


Growing in Grace

The Christian life is predicated upon the finished work of Jesus. He died and was raised to life so that we might find life in Him. Once we by faith receive that life, we begin a new journey of life as we walk with Him through life. Tim Challis recently wrote an article that addressed the subject of growth in the Christian life. I hope the article will encouragement your grip on God’s grace as it did mine. Pastor Chris
 
 

“The great goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The Christian longs to be influenced by Christ to such an extent that every thought is one Jesus would think, that every action is one he would take. Such conformity depends upon a renewed mind, for it is only once our minds are renewed that our desires and actions can follow (Romans 12:2). The Christian life, then, is one of taking off the “old self with its practices” and putting on “the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).

So noble a goal can only be achieved with great effort and lifelong commitment, for we are sinful people, only recently liberated from our captivity to the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Christian life is not a leisurely stroll but a purposeful journey. Jesus tells us we must “strive to enter through the narrow door,” knowing that the Christian life permits no complacency, that salvation must be “worked out,” not waited out (Luke 13:24; Philippians 2:12). The Christian is not a passive spectator in sanctification but an active participant….Every Christian is responsible to diligently search out and discover the disciplines through which God grants increased godliness. Then he is to make a lifelong, whole-hearted commitment to each of them.

How Do Christians Grow?

With spiritual growth comes increased knowledge of God, trust in God, and conformity to God. The one who had little knowledge of God’s works and ways comes to know them both deeply. The one of weak faith comes to have immovable trust. The one who was depraved in desire and behavior comes to display Christ-like character and conduct. Such growth leads inexorably to delight, for to know and to imitate God is to enjoy him.

How, then, can we experience such an increase in knowledge, trust, conformity, and delight? Primarily through what we call “means of grace,” disciplines through which God communicates his sanctifying grace to us. While there are many such means, we can summarize them under three headings: Word, prayer, and fellowship. They are experienced in private devotion, family and corporate worship, and whenever we are with other Christians.

Though growth may come through other means, God promises growth will come through these ones.

J.C. Ryle speaks of their importance when he says, “I lay it down as a simple matter of fact that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification. I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them.”

Ordinary Means

Christians have often referred to these activities as the ordinary means of grace. The word ordinary is meant to address the common temptation to lose confidence in the means God has ordained, and to look instead to those that are foreign or forbidden. Deeply embedded within the sinful human heart is a desire for more than God has mandated, for other than what God has prescribed. Though God gave Adam and Eve knowledge of good, their sinful temptation was to add to it the knowledge of evil. When God held back nothing except the fruit of a single tree, they found themselves obsessed with that very one. Similarly, we may grow weary of entrusting ourselves to the ordinary ministry of the Word and veer instead into mysticism. We may grow discouraged in our ordinary prayers and search for new forms of communication with God. We may grow weary of worshipping in Christian community and pursue selfish worship.

Yet God means for us to commit ourselves to these activities, to trust that they are the means through which he accomplishes his work within us. His extraordinary work is achieved through ordinary means. Thus, we must not only make use of the means of grace but trust them. We must trust they are God’s appointed means to promote zeal for godliness, to foster godliness, and to preserve godliness to the end.

God’s Means

God’s means of grace are the Word, prayer, and fellowship. These, according to John MacArthur, are the “instruments through which God’s Spirit graciously grows believers in Christlikeness and fortifies them in the faith and conforms them into the image of the Son.” Ryle describes them as “appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace to the soul and strengthens the work which He has begun in the inward man.” Let’s look briefly at each of them.

Word. The Word of God, the Bible, is God’s revelation to humanity—his revelation of himself, his character, and his works. It is his voice to the world. And it is through the Bible, more than any other means, that God sanctifies us. The Bible first reveals the gospel, which is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). We cannot be saved without it. Then it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” so that every Christian may be “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We cannot grow in godliness without it. Therefore, the Bible must be read, taught, absorbed, and applied. We must read it as individuals, families, and churches. Parents must teach it to their children, pastors to their congregations, Christians to their peers. We must meditate upon it, diligently and prayerfully seeking to understand it, and we must apply it, shaping our lives according to its every truth and every command. As Christians we are, and must always be, people of The Book.

Prayer. As the Bible is the means through which God speaks to humanity, prayer is the means through which we speak to God. Christians are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to make life a conversation in which we hear from God and speak in return, or in which we speak to God and hear in return. We are to offer prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication. We are to pray privately, with our family, with our friends, and with our congregation, to pray both as individuals and gathered congregations. In certain seasons, we are to pray with fasting, specially consecrating ourselves to the work of prayer. As we pray, God blesses us with increased trust in him, increased fellowship with him, and increased confidence in his character and works.

Fellowship. When we become Christians, we enter into a fellowship of believers that spans the earth and the ages. We grow in godliness in community, not isolation. This is why the author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:24-25). It is in Christian community that we read the Word and hear it preached (2 Timothy 4:2), that we join our voices together in prayer (Acts 4:24), that we sing praises to God (Colossians 3:16), that we bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), speak truth to one another (Ephesians 4:25), and encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It is here that we celebrate the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism, and here that we experience the blessings of church membership and the tough love of church discipline. The Bible knows nothing of Christians who willfully separate themselves from Christian fellowship. It is a means through which God pours out his sanctifying grace upon us and through us.

Conclusion

Ray Ortlund points out that the means of grace are God’s answer to questions every Christian must ask: “How do I, as a believer, access the grace of the Lord for my many needs? Where do I go, what do I do, to connect with the real help He gives to sinners and sufferers here in this world?” We access the Lord’s grace and receive the Lord’s help through these ordinary means. We cannot expect to grow or thrive apart from them. But we can confidently expect to grow and thrive in proportion to the degree we commit ourselves to them, for God has ordained them for this very purpose.

Thus, the first rule of godliness is trust the ordinary means of grace. We must take full advantage of the disciplines God provides, and we must ensure we do not lose our confidence that God can and will work through such ordinary means. It is his desire and delight to do so.”


Godly Leadership

One of the more important topics in the assembly of the saints today is the topic of leadership. The Bible addresses the topic of leadership from many angles. Steven Cole explores several qualities of biblical leadership in the article below. As I read it, my faith in Christ was strengthened and my desire to be a godly leader was fueled with fire from heaven. I hope as you read it, the article will have a similar effect upon your life in Christ. Pastor Chris
 
 
 
 

“In a day when many church leaders have fallen into serious sin, the vitality of the church depends on our recovering these godly leadership qualities. Even if you are not a church leader, every fruitful Christian should be growing in these four qualities seen in our text:

A godly leader is marked by a servant attitude, transparent integrity, godly character, and faithful biblical teaching.

1. A godly leader is marked by a servant attitude.

Paul’s servant attitude flavors this entire message, but he mentions specifically that he was “serving the Lord” (20:19). The word “serving” is the verb related to the noun “bond-servant” or slave. Paul often referred to himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Col. 1:7; 4:7; Titus 1:1). It was the way he viewed himself, and the way that every Christian should view himself. We do not belong to ourselves; we are slaves of Jesus Christ. We should do all that we do to please Him. If we have a sphere of service, we received it from Him (Acts 20:24).

This means that a leader primarily serves the Lord, and only secondarily serves the church. He will answer to God someday for how he fulfilled the stewardship entrusted to Him. I realize that sometimes a self-willed man will use that as an excuse for being unaccountable to anyone. If his board questions his behavior, he piously answers, “I don’t need to answer to you; I answer to God!” That is a cop out. Everyone needs to be accountable.

But there is a legitimate sense in which a godly leader realizes that he will answer to God, and it keeps him from becoming a man-pleaser. As Paul said (Gal. 1:10), “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (see also, 1 Thess. 2:4). This sense of pleasing God rather than men allows a godly leader to confront sin when necessary, and to preach difficult truth when necessary (more on this in a moment).

When a man truly sees himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, he will take up the towel and basin as Jesus did (John 13:1-17), and serve others out of love. Lording it over others is the world’s way. Christ’s way is that the greatest among us should be the servant of all (Mark 10:42-45).

2. A godly leader is marked by transparent integrity.

Paul said, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time” (20:18). He later mentions that he was with them “night and day for a period of three years” (20:31). He was referring to spending a lot of time with these men, but I think that he was also referring to living his life openly before them. They had seen how he lived. He didn’t put on a front when he was with them, but then live differently when he was away from them. He had nothing to hide.

Integrity means that what you are in private or at home is the same as what you are in public. Your life is a single fabric. This stems from the first quality, that you are aware that you are serving the Lord, who knows every thought and motive of the heart.

In the 1940’s, a preacher named Will Houghton served as the President of Moody Bible Institute. An agnostic man, who was contemplating suicide, decided that if he could find a minister who lived his faith, he would listen to him. So he hired a private detective to watch Houghton. When the investigator’s report came back, it revealed that this preacher’s life was above reproach. He was for real. The agnostic went to Houghton’s church, trusted in Christ, and later sent his daughter to Moody Bible Institute (“Our Daily Bread,” 11/83). Leaders must be men of godly integrity.

3. A godly leader is marked by godly character.

Many godly character qualities could be listed, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). But three qualities stand out here:

A. GODLY CHARACTER INCLUDES HUMILITY.

You have probably heard it said that as soon as you think that you’ve attained humility, you’ve lost it. But that’s not true. Paul here mentions his own humility. Jesus described Himself as gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29). Moses described himself as the most humble man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3)! So apparently, you can know when you are humble without being proud of it. What does it mean to be humble?

In a nutshell, biblical humility is a conscious awareness of your utter dependence on Jesus Christ. We see it in Paul when he explains, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). We see it when he says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:4). He confronts the pride of the Corinthians when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). A humble person is continually aware that all that he is stems from God’s grace. His confidence is not in himself, but in the Lord, so that he is quick to give the glory to God in every situation.

I recently received a promotional letter from some folks in the church growth movement that reported a study that reveals “that although successful leaders have many strengths and various factors in common, there is only one factor that all successful leaders have in common—self-confidence” (emphasis in original). Having concluded that self-confidence is an essential quality for successful leaders, they proceeded to develop a tool that would help pastors develop confidence in themselves (I’m not making this up!).

But in the context of warning us about the deceitfulness of the heart, the Bible strongly warns against self-confidence (Jer. 17:5-9). True, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). But there is a huge difference between confidence in Christ in us and confidence in ourselves. A godly leader depends on Christ and is quick to share his own weaknesses (2 Chron. 20:12; 2 Cor. 12:5-10). That is the essence of biblical humility.

B. GODLY CHARACTER INCLUDES LOVE, CONCERN, AND COMPASSION.

These qualities are behind the word “tears” (20:19). He again mentions his tears in 20:31, in the context of admonishing these elders, especially with regard to false teaching. There are more tears, both on Paul’s and the elders’ part, when they accompany Paul to the ship for their final goodbye (20:37). Paul’s tears showed how much he cared about these men, and the feelings were mutual. As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.”

Paul was moved to tears when he heard of Christians who were not walking obediently to Christ. He wrote to the Corinthians, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you” (2 Cor. 2:4). If you need to correct someone who has fallen into sin or serious error, make sure that the person senses your genuine love and concern.

C. GODLY CHARACTER INCLUDES STEADFASTNESS IN TRIALS.

The Ephesian elders had seen Paul go through the trials that came upon him through the plots of the Jews (20:19). The Book of Acts does not record any such plots in Ephesus, although it does report several other such plots of the Jews in other cities (9:23; 20:3; 23:12), and so it is not difficult to assume that the same thing had happened in Ephesus. The Ephesian elders had also seen Paul’s behavior when the Gentiles rioted against him. In all of these situations, they saw Paul, even though he despaired of life itself, trust all the more in God (2 Cor. 1:8-10). He didn’t grow bitter and rage against God that He wasn’t being fair. He didn’t lash out at the Jews in vengeance. He submitted to God’s mighty hand and cast his cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:6-7).

Thus a godly leader is marked by a servant attitude, by transparent integrity, and by godly character that includes humility, love, and steadfastness in trials. Finally,

4. A godly leader is marked by faithful biblical teaching.

Verses 20 & 21 reveal five aspects of faithful teaching:

A. FAITHFUL BIBLICAL TEACHING REQUIRES NOT DODGING DIFFICULT TRUTHS.

“I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable.” This implies that some things that are profitable are difficult to receive, and thus difficult to teach. If Paul had been seeking to please men, he would have dodged these truths. If he had wanted to be a popular speaker, he would have chosen other subjects. But because he sought to please God, and because he knew that these truths were profitable for spiritual growth and health, he plainly taught what God wanted him to teach.

What were some of these truths? I think that we can surmise a few of them by reading Ephesians, which he later wrote to this church. He begins by talking about the doctrines of God’s sovereign election and predestination (1:4-5). He goes on to talk about human depravity, that we were all dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1). Because of this, salvation is totally from God’s grace, not from our merit or works (2:5-9). He shows how the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles is broken down in Christ (2:11-22). All of these doctrines level human pride and exalt the cross of Jesus Christ. Because they rob man of any basis for pride, people stumble over these truths. But like health food, they are profitable for spiritual health, and so Paul taught them, and so should we.

B. FAITHFUL BIBLICAL TEACHING REQUIRES PRACTICAL APPLICATION THAT HELPS PEOPLE TO GROW IN THEIR FAITH.

Paul taught what was profitable or helpful for spiritual growth and health. He warns Timothy about those who teach things that lead to mere speculation and fruitless discussion, rather than furthering God’s provision which is by faith (1 Tim. 1:4-7). As he studies the Bible, a faithful Bible teacher always asks, “So what? What difference should this Scripture make in my life (first), and in the lives of those whom I teach?” Sound application always comes out of sound interpretation of a biblical text in its context. You should be able to look at your Bible and say, “Yes, I see that this is what God wants me to do.”

C. FAITHFUL BIBLICAL TEACHING SHOULD TAKE PLACE BOTH IN FORMAL AND INFORMAL SETTINGS.

Paul taught these men publicly and from house to house. Paul taught these men in the school of Tyrannus, in the house church meetings, when they heard him preach in the Jewish synagogues, and in their various homes as they shared meals or got together socially. Sometimes it was the entire group at once. At other times, he met individually with one man to help him understand some doctrine or work through a personal problem biblically. The informal times reveal that Paul always loved to talk about the things of God with these men. He was constantly interacting with them about Scripture because it was central in his life.

D. FAITHFUL BIBLICAL TEACHING REFLECTS A SERIOUSNESS ABOUT ETERNAL TRUTHS.

Paul “solemnly testified” both to Jews and Greeks about repentance and faith. The word pictures a person under oath in a courtroom, solemnly swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Paul realized that the eternal destiny of souls was at stake, and he didn’t take his preaching assignment lightly.

There is a place for some humor in the pulpit, but it is easy to abuse humor so as to convey that we are not in dead earnest about eternal issues. I recently heard a sermon on a cassette, and I came away thinking that the preacher came across like a stand up comedian. His content would have been fine if he had conveyed it in earnest, but his repeated humor made it seem like a light-hearted, don’t take it too seriously, kind of message. A faithful biblical teacher should convey the seriousness of the gospel.

E. FAITHFUL BIBLICAL TEACHING PROCLAIMS REPENTANCE AND FAITH AS THE CORE REQUIREMENTS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD.

Some say that repentance toward God applies to the Gentiles, and faith in our Lord Jesus to the Jews. But there is no grammatical reason to take it that way, and the fact is, both groups need both qualities. Repentance and faith are the flip sides of the same coin. They are different ways of looking at the requirement for salvation, but you can’t separate them from one another. Repentance means turning from our sin toward God. It is impossible to turn toward the holy God and at the same time consciously holding on to your sin. Repentance is the heart-felt cry, “O God, I have sinned against You, but I don’t want to live that way any longer. Have mercy on me, the sinner!”

Faith is the hand that lays hold of God’s provision in Christ. Faith looks to Christ as the righteousness that I need to stand before a holy God. Faith looks to Christ as the pardon for all my sins through His shed blood. Faith in the Lord Jesus means that I am not trusting in my own righteousness in any way, but only in Jesus as my mediator and advocate. Both faith and repentance are God’s gifts, not a matter of human merit (Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8-9).

And just as we begin the Christian life through repentance and faith, so we should go on living daily by repentance and faith (Col. 2:6). As God’s Word shines into the dark areas of our lives, we turn from our sins and we trust in all that Christ is for us and in us. That is the Christian walk, repenting and believing, repenting and believing. Christ Himself is the object and sum of our faith.

Conclusion

Whether you are in an official leadership position or not, you should be growing in these four areas. Are you just living for yourself, or are you developing a servant’s attitude? Are you living a double life, or are you growing in godly integrity? What about your character? Are you growing in humility, in love and concern for others, and in steadfastness in trials? And, while you may not have the gift of teaching, you should be growing in understanding and applying all of God’s Word to all of your life and then sharing what you are learning with others. Congressman J. C. Watts said, “To say America can have strong leadership without strong character is to say we can get water without the wet” (Reader’s Digest [12/98], p. 39). The same is true for the church!”