One of the greatest needs in Appalachia is clothes and food. Yesterday our team served over 300 hot dogs throughout Owsley County. Booneville has a local food pantry that receives a weekly delivery from Lexington - hundreds of residents rely on this food to meet their hunger needs. Giving away free clothes and food is one way to open the door to advance the Gospel. We always include tracts with the food and ask if residents have prayer requests. We're thankful for First Baptist Church of Frankfort, they own and operate the mission center we're staying at. They bought an old motel and renovated it for mission teams to stay and work out of.
Our ministry team went to the nursing home and senior's center. Many people don't think about sharing the Gospel with senior adults. One of our team members asked an elderly man about his relationship with God, and he responded, "I'm going to hell."
He told him he didn't have to go to hell, and shared the Good News about Jesus. That senior citizen trusted in Christ yesterday in Booneville, Kentucky. We have no idea who God is preparing to respond to His Word. We're told in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word never returns void. Yesterday, one more was added to God's Kingdom.
Last week at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump spoke about, "Forgotten America." The flyover part of our nation that's missed economic growth. 34 people from First Baptist Church, Moreland, Georgia are staying in Booneville, Kentucky. Four different teams serving and sharing the Good News in Owsley County.
Many times when we think of missions, we first think internationally. While that must be a priority, we can't forget of our home. The needs are great here in Appalachia - God hasn't "Forgotten" about this part of America. Be in prayer for our four teams as we begin a life-changing week.
30+ folks from First Baptist Moreland will be headed to Booneville, Kentucky next month for a week-long mission trip. Last weekend, 6 people traveled to Booneville to see what to prepare for. One of the most important things about having a great mission trip is preparation. Here are 4 steps mission teams should take before going on their mission trip:
1). Take a Preview Trip. Some of the mission trip leaders should travel to the ministry sites a month or two in advance to see what you'll be doing and make any necessary adjustments. Take pictures, come back excited - become contagious about the upcoming trip.
2). Create a Daily Schedule. Everyone should know what they're doing everyday. You should wake-up in the morning and know where you'll be working, how you'll get there, where you're eating and what supplies you'll be needing. Wasting time wastes your mission trip.
3). Come Prepared for Unplanned Expenses. A flat tire, an expensive restaurant, helping others in need, having to buy extra supplies. There are unplanned and unexpected expenses on every mission trip. Make sure teenagers bring spending money - they always want to buy the most.
4). Be Prepared to Share the Gospel. Memorize the Romans Road to Salvation or the ABC's to Salvation. The purpose of all mission trips is to lead others to Christ - everyone should come expecting the opportunity to see others get saved.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a week-long, non-stop, 3-hour best week of the summer. This year at First Baptist Church of Moreland - we host VBS on Sunday June 5 to Thursday June 9 from 6-9 p.m. Family Night is Sunday June 12 at 6 p.m. Every child 3 years old to completed 6th grade needs to attend, even if they can only come one or two nights, it's worth it! We have alot of new people attending VBS this summer, so we wanted to let parents know what to expect.
Here are six things you need to know to prepare for VBS:
1). You need to pre-register online. When you arrive on Sunday June 5 at 6 p.m. you'll have no paperwork to complete if you've already signed-up your child. Our goal is 217 children, which would be an all-time record. 100 children have already pre-registered. Here's the registration website: https://kideventpro.lifeway.com/myChurch/?id=31271
2). You need to buy your child a Submerged VBS yellow t-shirt. They cost $7 with sizes from youth XS to adult 3XL. To order a t-shirt, email our director, Mandy Ross, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook her. If you pre-order your t-shirt in advance, it will have the church's name on the shoulder. T-shirts aren't required, but they do help your child have a better experience.
3). We provide your child with dinner every night - for free!
4). Drop-off at 6 p.m. is at the church's back-door and pick-up at 9 p.m. is at the church's front-door. Our church's security team releases your child. All VBS leaders are required to pass a background check.
5). We have an offering war between the boys and the girls. Children will have their change sucked from their hand into an offering machine. Monday night is pennies, Tuesday night is nickels, Wednesday night is dimes, and Thursday night is quarters. If the boys win, they get to pie VBS director Mandy Ross on Thursday night. If the girls win, they get to pie pastor Daniel Ausbun on Thursday evening. Our offering goal is $1,000 and every penny goes towards the Georgia Baptist Children's Home in Palmetto.
6). Family night is Sunday June 12 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the sanctuary. Your child will perform the VBS theme music they've learned all week - afterwards is an Ice Cream Sundae party in the fellowship hall. They should wear their t-shirt. Arrive early to get a seat.
Five VBS Takeaways
3 Reasons to Consider Club VBS this Summer
This month was my 11 year anniversary as pastor of First Baptist Church of Moreland, Georgia. 11 years ago I was the youngest pastor in Coweta County, now I have the 3rd longest tenure of pastors in the Western Baptist Association. Every April I give you golden truths from the trenches.
1). Pastors are measured by numbers. It's wrong, but it happens. Only three numbers matter: Bodies, Budget, and Buildings. Baptisms used to be included, but no more. How many people attend your church? How much money do you have coming in? How big are your buildings? All three of these are interconnected. God, though, has a completely different standard for measuring pastors.
2). Pastors are most criticized for not visiting. Pastoral care is one of the greatest strengths the church has to offer – it separates a church from an organization.
3). The hardest thing within a church to accomplish is to create an effective disciplemaking process. It’s easier for me to raise money than make disciples. Jesus, though, wants disciples.
4). Trying to be “Cool” always backfires. Nobody thinks preachers are cool.
5). Nothing is worth getting angry about. James 1:19-20 warns us about anger. Problems only get worse when people become angry.
6). People will come to church if you invite them. This principle works. The easiest and quickest way to grow a church or Sunday School class – get the folks to invite their friends.
7). Pastors must walk a fine line with politics. Some church members love discussing politics and others despise it. Encourage everyone to vote biblical values.
8). Have someone commit to praying for you and your ministry. I have a former pastor in Stockbridge, Georgia who prays weekly for me and our church. We mail him a bulletin so he can pray specifically for every event and ministry – he knows more about what’s going on at our church than most members.
9). Never be alone with minors. If they accuse you of anything, you immediately go to jail.
10). Preach on the hard topics. Alcohol, remarriage, divorce, homosexuality, pornography – the folks in the pews are wondering what the Bible says about the most controversial issues.
11). It’s better to overdress than underdress. There’s a reason for the phrase, “Sunday Best.”
Ten Discoveries in Ten Years
9 Truths in 9 Years
This Sunday I'm beginning a new sermon series based on Greg Laurie's new book, "Tell Someone."
Laurie is leading a Harvest Crusade in Duluth, Georgia at the Infinite Energy Center on September 24-25 of this year.
Laurie, Rick Gage, and Franklin & Will Graham are the only evangelicals in America holding crusades.
Whether through a crusade, local church ministry or personal evangelism - the Gospel must be communicated. Last year baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention were the lowest since 1948. The Gospel doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11), so this means we're not sharing it.
Laurie reminds us of three things in sharing the Good News:
1). Effective sharing begins with caring. Laurie asks, "Do you care about people who do not love the Lord?" We must genuinely care about people who are lost.
2). When should we share the Gospel? Whenever. We must always be available for the Holy Spirit. Christians can become known as hoarders. Christians can't use the excuse, "I don't feel led to tell others about Christ."
3). There's power in our personal story. Laurie said, "Every testimony is valid because there is someone out there a lot like you."
God has given us Biblical truth to share with others. The primary way God has chosen to reach people is through other people. God uses people to reach people.
Tomorrow is "Super Tuesday" aka the "SEC Primary." My state, Georgia, along with my hometown state, Alabama, will be going to the polls to vote for the party's presidential candidate.
I turn on the TV and it's on every show, every commercial, all over the radio, emails, Facebook posts, telephone calls, mass mailings, tweets, newspaper stories - millions of dollars are being spent to influence my vote.
Everyone is talking about the race. At church, at work, at school, at home - there's a passion for politics all around.
Here are three things Christians should remember about politics and Jesus:
1). Politics is divisive - people become passionate for their candidates and take it personal if they lose. Insulting other candidates will hurt your Gospel witness.
2). It's tempting for Christians to replace their conversation and passion for Christ with a political agenda. All a Christian can do is vote - talking endlessly about the election becomes pointless. The Devil likely is using politics to replace our interest in Christ.
3). Politics will not solve man's ultimate problem. We need a Savior who saves souls. As much as you might love and believe in your candidate, he or she will let you down. Christ still remains the only hope for America.
Next Sunday February 7 at 6 p.m. First Baptist Moreland will hold a healing service. An annual service for people in need for a touch from God. Churches can sometimes be hesitant to hold healing services for fear of being labeled, "Pentecostal." Another reason might be because we don't believe God. When you ask for a healing, especially publicly, you're putting yourself out there to be let down. What if God doesn't answer the prayer?
It's not a "safe" pre-planned public move in worship. The problem with this type of thinking is it goes against the picture of a New Testament church. Healing was the norm during their services.
Here are three reasons to return a focus towards healing:
1). Healing is a spiritual gift given for the church. (1 Corinthians 12:28) When some people pray for a healing, God answers their prayer. Churches that don't provide opportunities to heal others are neglecting the body of Christ. When someone has the gift of healing, but isn't allowed to use it - everyone loses.
2). Healings typically accompany confession. (James 5:15-16) Can you remember the last time you ever heard someone who confessed their sins at church? The breakthrough to experience healing is likely through confessing your sins to one another.
3). Healing was a main ministry of Jesus. (Luke 6:17-18) If something was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Nowhere in Scripture does it say this gift ceased. When churches don't have special times of healing, members suffer, spiritual gifts aren't being used, and the body of Christ displays a lack of faith in God.
Jesus established the church. It's the only organization founded by God. He's chosen to work through the church. He expects His people to belong to the church.
Jesus wants you to invite others to church. Here are three ways you can indirectly invite people to church without ever opening your mouth.
1). When you're at worship, Sunday School or Wednesday nights - use your phone to check-in on Facebook. When you check-in, you're telling others, "I'm at church." I know of a church in Indiana that grew tremendously using Facebook check-ins. Every Sunday and Wednesday dozens of members checked-in - which flooded the newsfeeds of all their friends. A Facebook check-in is like a public service announcement.
2). Write a Google review of your church. Most people who visit a church will first visit the church's website. How do they find the website? They Google the name of the church. Google drives more traffic to First Baptist Moreland's website than anything else. When you Google a church, not only does the church name and address appear, but also the reviews. If someone's considering a visit, they'll read the reviews. You need to write a Google review of your church.
3). Place a yard sign of your church in your yard. Do you live on a busy road or highway? Thousands of cars drive by everyday and you could indirectly be inviting them to church. Ask your church to spend $100 to order some yard signs to go in member's yards who live on busy roads. All the sign needs is the church's logo and website. You're indirectly telling motorists, "I attend First Baptist Moreland."
You can be a great evangelist for the Lord without ever saying a word.
Earlier this month a group of business leaders, community leaders, and pastors met at Golden Corral in Newnan with Evangelist Rick Gage. Rick is the son of renown Southern Baptist evangelist Freddie Gage. Freddie held a crusade at Newnan High School in 1984. Rick leads GO TELL Ministries - which plans crusades, summer student camps and international mission trips to reach people for Jesus. Rick is one of the few evangelists holding Billy Graham style stadium crusades.
Coweta County hasn't held a county-wide crusade since Evangelist Bailey Smith came to Newnan High School in April 2001. When we hold the Coweta County GO TELL Crusade in the Fall of 2016 - it will have been over 15 years since a unified multi-church county campaign.
We tried organizing a GO TELL Crusade in 2012, but God didn't open the door. The door has now opened - we're ready to reach our county for Christ!
How can you prepare and support the upcoming crusade?
First Baptist Church of Moreland's 2015 Trunk or Treat is scheduled for Saturday October 31 from 4-6 p.m. We used to always hold it on Friday evenings, but we moved it to Saturday afternoon to accommodate everyone's work schedule. Here are 10 things you need to know:
1). "Admission" to Trunk or Treat is a can of food for our food pantry. We collect hundreds of cans to help our community. On November 21, we provide over 100 Thanksgiving Dinners with the food you donate!
2). We're catering 3 Pigs BBQ by Tony Brown this year! Newnan's best BBQ will be served in the fellowship hall. Sandwiches are $3, Hot Dogs are $2, Plates are $5 which includes a BBQ Sandwich, chips and a drink or 2 Hot Dogs, chips and a drink. Proceeds go towards First Baptist Moreland and Bethlehem Baptist Church. Funnel Cakes are $5 and Turbo Tubs are $2.
3). Coweta County's 4-H will be bringing horses! Rides are $5
4). The best way you can help is to bring your trunk. The "wow" factor of Trunk or Treat is having 75+ trunks. If you're bringing your trunk, you need to be there by 3:30 p.m. and bring 2,000 pieces of candy. You can buy 1,000 pieces of candy at Moreland Surplus & Sales for $30.
5). If you run out of candy, we have people walking around giving refills. Do not close your trunk or drive away.
6). Bring a lawn chair and a sharpie. When you arrive, you'll receive a trunk number, children will hand you a piece a paper and you'll mark your number off. This prevents children from making multiple laps.
7). You can win an Amazon Fire. Take a picture of your trunk and use hashtag #TrunkOrTreat2015 and upload it on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and the most people who "like" or "favorite" your picture by 9 p.m. - wins! This lets everyone vote on the best decorated trunk.
8). Walk clockwise. It's challenging for the trunks when children are coming from both directions asking for candy.
9). Park on Main Street or at Moreland Elementary School. We'll have a Coweta County Sheriff's Deputy to help you cross the highway.
10). Wear a costume. Trunk or Treat is a fun, safe environment to Trick-or-Treat. I heard on the radio that Donald Trump's toupee is the #1 men's costume this year!
6 Tips for a Terrific Trunk or Treat
This evening after church, I encouraged someone to get started with his career. He was wasting time in his 20s, when he should be laying the foundation for his career.
When someone thinks about their career, they can break it down into four quarters - just like football. The typical pastor would finish undergraduate school when he's 22 years old and then graduate with his M.Div. three years after that - making him 25 when he begins to serve in a church. For me it was 26 years old because I remained in New Orleans for a second master's. A 40 year career is something a young pastor should strive for - this means I should retire when I'm 66.
Here are the four quarters of a 40 year career:
1st Quarter - The first 10 years are the hardest. You fumble the ball. You throw interceptions. You miss a tackle and the other team scores. You're a rookie going through growing pains. It's important that you learn from your mistakes and keep getting up when you've been knocked down.
2nd Quarter - Years 10-20 is when you begin to score. You should be past the rookie mistakes that used to plague you. People begin to take notice that you're still in the game. I'm in the second quarter.
3rd Quarter - You take the lead. Years 20-30 you can score nearly every time the quarterback throws the ball to you. This is your prime - you can read defenses and force an offense to punt. You've built trust and others want to play on your team.
4th Quarter - You begin letting the second string take some snaps. Years 30-40 are when you're 55-65 years old - you know the game will soon end and you've gained a big lead, played in the Pro Bowl, and won a championship. The fourth quarter is probably the next-to-hardest quarter because the "retirement" decision eventually has to be made. Sometimes the front office makes it for you.
Overtime - You have unfinished work. You're 65+ years old with 40+ years experience. You want to finish with a win - overtime games can be most exciting!
22 people have declared they're running for president in 2016. 17 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Of these 22 candidates, 4 of them are Southern Baptists. I'm a devoted Southern Baptists, so we need to get to know these 4 men.
Throughout our nation's history, there's been two Southern Baptist presidents: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Warren Harding and Harry Truman were Northern Baptists. Most presidents have been Episcopalian.
A Senator from South Carolina and is a member of Corinth Baptist Church in Seneca, South Carolina.
The former governor of Arkansas and the former youngest-ever president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. He attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He's pastored two Southern Baptist Churches: Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and Beech Street Baptist Church in Texarkana, Arkansas.
The former governor of Texas grew up alternating between a Methodist and Southern Baptist church in Paint Creek, Texas. He now attends Lake Hills Church (Southern Baptist) in Austin, Texas. Last year, he was baptized by Lake Hills' pastor in Little Rocky Creek near Independence, Texas. It was the same creek Sam Houston, the Republic of Texas' president was baptized in in 1854.
The Senator from Texas is a member of First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas. His father, Rafael Cruz, is a Pentecostal pastor of Purifying Fire Ministries in Carrollton, Texas. Cruz launched his campaign at Liberty University.
Scott Walker's father was an American Baptist pastor - now Walker is a member of Meadowbrook Church, a non-denominational church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin - he serves as a deacon and usher. The Governor of Wisconsin left the American Baptist Convention when the church he was attending placed a homosexual rainbow flag on the church's sign.
I cannot believe that 1 year has already passed! It seems like just a short time ago Daniel and I were checking our packing lists (several versions due to my Type A personality), medications (an entire medicine cabinet), flight tickets a world away with our 2 oldest children (Yikes, what are we thinking!), and precious 12-month outfits for our soon-to-be daughter. The transformation of love is remarkable. I have been full of nostalgia this past week, thinking of our hundreds of friends who prayed for us, supported us, loved and encouraged us and even gave their own money to help us get our daughter.
I think of the first time she was placed in our arms, she was tearful but curious. We gave her a lollipop and she didn’t even know what to do with it. She just held it in her sweet little hand the entire first hour during our “Gotcha Day” paperwork. She would smile sometimes but didn’t even know how to respond to being tickled. She would stare at us like we were crazy. She only liked rice soup called “congee” and wouldn’t take a bottle at all the first 3 days we had her with us in China. Esther didn’t know how to relax in our arms, or put her head on our shoulder. She threw baby dolls across the room because she didn’t understand or know how to love by pretend play. She didn’t know who to trust. We were the unfamiliar, yet we loved her SO much. We had been praying for her before we ever saw her face, before we knew she would be our daughter. But our Sovereign Lord knew who she was and where she would belong. “God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6
Now that Esther has been with our crazy clan for 1 whole year she understands a family. She loves to be carried around by her older brother and sister. She loves to be snuggled at night before bed while we pray and sing how Jesus loves her. She cries for her Mommy or Daddy when she gets hurt and wants us to console her. Everyday she relaxes into our family more and rests her sweet head on our shoulders. She pretends to feed her babies and changes their clothes and plays dress up and tea set with her older sister. She understands how to pretend love because she is loved. She trusts that we will take care of her needs, that she is our precious girl. Love can transform lives.
Just like love has changed Esther’s life, Jesus’ love can transform our lives if we trust Him, if we know Him, if we spend time with Him. Jesus tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 This past Sunday morning the message was about God’s omnipotence and omnipresence. Just as children trust their parents, we should trust our Almighty God. God knows the whole picture and if we rely on Him more than we rely on ourselves, “He will make our paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6
July 28th we will celebrate our sweet baby girl. We will rejoice that she is with our family forever. But this special time is born from great loss. Esther will never know her birth parents. She will ask questions as she gets older and will wonder about her past and the decisions her birth parents made when she was a baby. Jesus sees our painful pasts, but He can provide us a new life through His salvation. Isn’t it amazing that adoption paints the perfect picture of God’s love. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8b.
This first year has been challenging, exhausting and hard as our family has adjusted to 4 children, but it has also been amazing. Esther has been under anesthesia on 6 separate occasions. At times I am sure she has wondered if we are crazy putting her through so much pain. Yet this past month she began to walk on her flat feet for the first time in her life. She is determined, strong and so resilient. Our precious girl is amazing and we are so blessed to know that our friends and family continue to pray for her health and her soul. We are humbled to know that our story has in some small way inspired others to consider adoption. If you are considering adoption, if you feel God leading you down this road, don’t hesitate. It is an amazing journey we would do over again in a heartbeat to complete our family.
Gotcha (from Sherri)
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