Monday, February 4, 2013

From the Newsletter: God at work at First Baptist

This month, I want to talk about a few things that are exciting me. It’s easy to get discouraged at times. Over the last several months, it’s been one illness and struggle after another around the church. But, God is working. Make no mistake, he is working. There have been some awesome things happening, and rather than teaching or highlighting something we need to work on, I want to just stop and invite you to marvel at a few of the things that God has been doing in the last several months. Things that have excite and encouraged me, and I hope do the same for you.
First, A baptism. Last week, Rob Guinen was baptized. Baptism is an act of obedience and a public commitment to Christ. Whenever you have a baptism, it’s a moment worthy of celebration.
Second, God has been raising up followers of Christ who are actively seeking to grow in Christ. Along with seeing people connect to the gospel and commit to following Christ, seeing people seek to become deep disciples; seeing people seek to put down roots and grow as followers of Christ, absolutely thrills me. Lately, I have seen many signs of this. The Sunday morning group that is working through the Bible together this year has come together organically. It was a bottom up initiative. It wasn’t something that I decided “we need to do this”. It was Pam’s idea. Something God laid on her heart, She has been the catalyst, and the result of God laying this on her heart is that there is one more place in the church where scripture is being discussed, thought through, and applied. Hallelujah! Along with this, there is Sunday morning prayer time- which you should be at if you can. Again, this was not from me. It is an initiative that came from Dennis. There has been an active interest in the coming marriage class. All these things excite me. It’s people saying, I want to do this to grow, and help others grow.
Remember, discipleship is not something that is passive. Its something you take an active role in. James Emmory White, the former president of GCTS, notes that “It’s a common phrase in Christian circles. We talk of “discipling” someone, “being” discipled, or going where there is a strong emphasis on discipleship.” But he says that something is wrong with this picture. “the language itself puts the entire emphasis on someone, or something, “doing” discipleship “to” someone else. The one being discipled is seemingly passive… discipleship is something “received.” But that is not the idea of discipleship in the Bible. The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” and literally means “learner.” …That puts the action firmly into the lap of the one doing the, as a disciple, are to be actively learning. It is your responsibility to take up the mantle of self-development… growing in faith is something that can be served by others, but ultimately must be owned personally by ourselves. As a pastor, I can only feed you so much. If you live on one meal a week, two meals a week, you starve. I see people that are self feeding, they are actively seeking to grow as disciples of Christ, and help others grow. That excites me.
Third, Younger leaders are emerging. Pam Cutler is leading the discussion time for those that are reading through the Bible together, and she recently presented the idea of the women retreat this spring. Cari Teague is doing yeoman’s work leading the Sunday school team. Stephanie Lord is taking a leading role in worship (which, if you’ve heard me sing, you know is a Godsend). Dennis Ericson is leading the Sunday morning prayer time. One of the key things that this church needs is a for God to raise up a new generation of leaders. Dan Nye gently reminded me that we have to develop new leaders a few months back, and he’s completely right. . This has been made even more clear as we have coped with Al’s absence. With so many of our longtime leadership aging, we need to see a new group to be raised up. Pray that God raises up a new generation of gospel centered leaders who will lead the congregation well as we seek to glorify God and impact our community for Christ. But lets celebrate what God has done already. He has begun raise up a new generation of leaders. That thrills me.
These are a couple of things that have excited and encouraged me over the last few months. What’s stood out to you? What have you noticed? Make no mistake. God is at work. As we continue in this new year, lets rejoice in all that God is doing here at First Baptist.