Tuesday, January 24, 2012

People of the Book

It is amazing to see what one book has done to shape the history of the world. The early church unified around the writings of the Apostles. The teachings found in The Book caused a shift in the most powerful kingdom the world had ever known. The Roman Empire, marked by Greek influence of worshiping many gods, completely transformed into the Holy Roman Empire as the teachings of the Bible swept through the kingdom. What arguably started as a world revival soon morphed into a tradition of ignorance. The Middle Ages brought high illiteracy and the reading of the Bible was left to a small number of educated monks. People no longer searched for truth on their own but accepted the teachings of a corrupt clergy greedy for money and power.

The Enlightenment gave way to the Reformation as more people learned to read and have access to the Bible. People began to question the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as they read the Bible for themselves and realized they were not accurate. This was the case in England in the early 1600’s where we find our Baptist roots. It is hard to look past tradition even if the truth is staring you in the faith. A small group of Separatists (who separated from the Church of England) recognized in Scripture that baptism was for believers, not infants. They had English translations of the Bible since 1300’s; however, it was 1609 before believer’s baptism was practiced. It was the 1640’s before this group began to practice immersion as the means for baptism. These early Baptists continued to examine their beliefs, not by tradition, but by the Word of God.

No wonder J. H. Shakespeare said, “the great discovery, therefore, of the age was not the New World, but a book.” The Bible led one Separatists group called the Puritans to settle in the New World and the Bible that led another Separatists group to become what we know today as Baptists. I am proud to be a Baptist today, not only because of our tradition, but because we are a people who look at the Bible and not tradition for our understanding of truth. This is what led J.H Shakespeare to conclude that you could wipe out all the religious groups of the seventeenth century, leave an open Bible, and “there would be Baptists” tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Start Right Here!

When Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Acts 1:8 he called us to start with our “Jerusalem.” It is easy for us to say that our Jerusalem is Bartlesville. However, I like to think our Jerusalem is a little more personal than thinking of our entire city. When you think about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, think about the people you encounter every day. Think about your family and close friends. Also, think about the very people you work with. The truth is you spend more time with the people in your place of employment than you do your family. How can you proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ to those you spend at least forty hours of every week?

I had this in mind while I was reading Jeremiah chapter 1. The first chapter is Jeremiah’s call to ministry. He was called by God to proclaim His Word as we are today. He was to go about his life and be the voice for God in the good times and bad times. In verse 17, it says, “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” What God was telling Jeremiah was that he needed to be dressed and ready to share the Word of God when God gave him opportunity. Paul told us to put on the whole armor of God including the Sword of the Spirit. When we get up and prepare for work, let us be dressed not only for our career, but also be dressed ready to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with those God puts in our path.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big Weekend for Eastern Heights!

This is going to be a big weekend for us. How exciting it is to bring in a new staff member! I want to encourage everyone to participate in the events leading up to Sunday where you can get to know Stephen Kelley and his family. Besides being a man with great talent, Stephen is very personable and has a heart for ministry. Calling an Associate Pastor of Worship and Education is a big part of our current strategy in accomplishing the church’s vision and living according to our biblical purpose. I truly believe that this act of obedience and step of faith will propel us to be more effective as we engage Bartlesville and beyond with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When you see members of the search committee, be sure and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. The committee consisted of Kathy Beard (chairperson), Chuck Bennett, Kaylene Westbrook, Alice Bowman, and Kara Blankenship. They worked diligently to make sure we found God’s man for our church. They met almost every Wednesday night for the last year. They spent numerous hours in prayer, searching through resumes and listening to worship services. Some of the meetings were exciting and some were discouraging. However, without exception, they came ready to work and took the task to heart with all they had. They set the standard high for serving God’s Kingdom.

Multiplying the Kingdom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

His Purpose in 2012

I am excited about what God has in store for us in 2012. I cannot think of a better way to start the year than to add a new staff member to the church. I am excited for everyone to meet Stephen Kelley and his wonderful wife and children. I believe that Stephen is going to be a great fit for our church and help lead us in our journey of faith. The search committee has worked diligently over the last year to find God’s man for Eastern Heights. Please pray for Stephen and his family as they prepare to come and share with us in a couple of weeks.

2012 is going to provide us with many more opportunities to fulfill the purpose God has given Eastern Heights. It is our goal to bring glory to God as we engage the world. It is our goal to develop people who engage God in worship, who engage in obedience, who engage the lost world with the gospel, who engage each other in love, and who engage in intentional discipleship. In which of these areas do you need to improve during this New Year? In what areas do you need to be more active in our church? God has a place for each of us in His mission. I encourage you to find your place and be diligent in your obedience. May God use you to do extraordinary things in 2012!

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.     Ezra leads the people of Israel out o...