Wednesday, March 29, 2017

God's Way is Hard

Following God is always hard.  Jesus called the way to salvation the steep and narrow path.  Paul spoke of his journey in obedience as one of trials.  I believe this to be true for us today.  It is easy to be satisfied and say where we are as a church is “good enough”.  There is also a temptation for us to want things the way they were in the past.  The past may not have been perfect but it is familiar.  At least we understood it.  When the People of Israel saw the Promised Land for the first time they knew that it was great.  They knew that it was better than what they had in Egypt.  But what they feared was the journey to take it.  That is why ten of the twelve spies recommended to not fight for it.  In Numbers 14 the congregation cried out to Moses, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword?” They could not see the destination because of the obstacles in their way.

We are in an interesting place as a church.  Our Worship Center feels full most Sundays.  We are not doing great financially but good enough to keep bills paid and not have to cut any ministries.  We are comfortable with what we are doing and the risk of doing something new or different seems to risk more than it could gain.  However, not moving forward as a church means we rely on our own strength and power and not have to step forward in faith and experience the power of God that shows up during our obedience.  The People of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness because of their disobedience. It was 40 years that should have been spent in the Promised Land.  God brought up a new generation who would be willing to trust him and move forward.  They saw the same fortified cities and the same giants yet they were willing to step out in faith to fight the battle so they could experience something so much greater.

The church has commissioned the Ministry Leadership Team with the task of updating our Long-Range Plan.  We will be addressing issues that are obstacles in our growth. What sacrifices are we willing to make to reach people in Bartlesville and the WORLD with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Pray for us as we seek God’s direction.  Pray we will not look for the easy way and instead be ready to lead our church to take the next step of faith.  God’s way is hard, but it is worth it!

Heart of Forgiveness

Association Letter for Malawi Mission Trip

Six years ago, Bro. Paul approached me about helping him take a group of students to Malawi.  Africa was not on my horizon.  I like the comforts of home and the thought of being away from my family and church for over two weeks did not appeal to me.  Yet, as I prayed God made it clear to me he wanted me to go.  I thought I would go, have a once in a lifetime experience, and be able to raise support for the great ministries there in a better way. Little did I know God would connect my heart with the people there in a way that had me return many more times.

There are many in our association who have similar stories.  Bro. Paul’s leadership did more than just start over 80 churches and the feeding centers.  His leadership led dozens of us from Washington-Osage Baptist Association to fly across the globe to walk to a hut in the middle of nowhere to share with them the love of Jesus Christ.  Dozens in our association have a love for the people because they experienced it first-hand.  Those trips changed all our lives.  We look at the world differently and understand the impact of missions to the unreached people groups around the world.  A trip to Malawi changes your view of the world and the command of God for us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

With Paul’s death, our ministry to Malawi does not have to end.  They need, more than ever, to know that we still care for them and want to help them reach the lost in areas where they have yet to hear the name of Jesus.  This summer I will be leading a group of seven from our association to Malawi. We will be working with Manna Ministries including the third feeding center we just started in memory of Bro. Paul.  We will be strengthening some of the newest churches we have started as well as taking the Gospel to new villages where we hope to start new churches. 

As has always been the case, we need the help of the churches in our association to make this happen.  Because of the small group, it is costing more per person for this years’ trip.  It is costing $4100 per person.  We have all signed up in faith that God will work out these finances.  Would your church be willing to help us financially?  Your gift to the Malawi Mission Team will help us continue in the legacy left to us by Bro. Paul.

We also need churches willing to help support Manna Ministries monthly.  We are feeding over 200 orphans and widows in 3 different feeding centers every day.  Without your continued support, we would not be able to provide the necessary supplies to help those who are relying on us for their most basic of needs. 

Thank you for your partnership in ministry,

Michael Vallandingham
Malawi Mission Team Leader
Pastor, Eastern Heights Baptist Church

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 19, 2017 Morning Worship

2 Big Needs

There are two big financial needs I want you and your family to pray about.  The first one is the “It is Time” Capital Campaign.  We voted over a year and a half ago to start this campaign to help update the amazing facilities God has blessed us with.  We have been able to replace the congregational lighting in the Worship Center from a system that left us with strobing lights on a regular basis to a highly efficient, reliable LED lighting system.  We have installed a baptistery so we can have baptism in the Worship Center and not walk to the other end of the facility.  The video projectors and sound system have been updated to better serve our needs.  We have new carpet in the Worship Center and hallways.  We have repainted some of the hallways and the front wall of the Worship Center.

God has blessed us through these upgrades and our facilities are showing that we are being good stewards of what God has provided through the hard work and dedication of those who came before us. However, we are not able to finish this campaign because we are stuck financially. We still need around $60,000 to finish the baptistery changing areas, new stage lighting (our current lighting keeps throwing breakers and has the same problems our other lights had), flooring in the chapel, parlor and classrooms, painting for hallways and classrooms, a security system, as well as a new welcome area to serve as a place for fellowship and greeting of guests.  These improvements help us continue to be good stewards of our existing facility making it a tool for ministry that will serve us for years to come.  We need everyone participating financially if we are going to make this happen.

The second need is in missions.  We have three members going to Malawi this summer.  This is a new era for this ministry as we navigate this important ministry without the leadership of Bro. Paul.  We will be encouraging and planting churches around Lilongwe as well as working with the Manna Ministries feeding centers.  We just started our third feeding center, Zikomo, in memory of Bro. Paul.  We are feeding over 200 orphans and widows every day through these feeding centers.  If you would be willing to help this team get to Malawi it would be greatly appreciated.  It is costing $4100 a person to make this trip.  If you would like to help support Manna Ministries monthly, your gift will help feed and meet the basic needs of those who have no hope.

Thank you for letting me take this time to share these needs.  You are such a faithful giving church and I do not like to have ask for more.  But if God is laying it on your heart to help in these two areas, it is needed and your gift will serve our ministry in an important and efficient way.  If you have any questions concerning these please do not hesitate to ask.

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...