Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Serve Together

There is joy in serving the Lord together in a local church.  Serving together helps us fulfill the calling God places on the local church.  Jesus’ example to us was one of serving, not being served. He deserved to be worshiped and yet he made himself of no reputation in order to be a servant.  If our place within the local church is nothing more than coming to a location in order to be served by others, we are completely missing the purpose God has for us.  Leaders in the church are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12).  It is our goal to equip you so you can serve joyfully within the church.

Sunday is our ministry fair. It is a way for us to communicate the areas of service that are available in our church.  Please take the time to look around the room and see the exciting areas our church is serving.  We cannot accomplish the ministries of the church without your help. Each one of us must use our spiritual gifts to strengthen the body of Christ.  This is your opportunity.  When you combine your spiritual gifts with the ministry in which you are zealous you will find fulfillment in service.

Let me draw attention to some important areas of service in which we need help.  
·     Preschool: We have divided the preschool leader responsibilities into three coordinator positions.  Preschool is an essential ministry of our church as we teach the children but also provide a safe place for parents to leave their children so they can learn. See the Children’s Ministry table to read these job descriptions.  We also need people to serve on the rotation for extended session.
·     Vacation Bible School: It is time to start preparing for VBS June 10-14.  This is our most important children’s outreach event every year.  There is a place for everyone to serve.
·     Malawi: If you would like to go on the Malawi mission trip this year, please sign up and get more information on the Mission Team table.  The trip is tentatively set for September 10-20 with a cost around $3500 (airfare at time of purchase determines exact price).
·     Engage Church: Engage Church is a new church we are planting targeting those in poverty on the westside of Bartlesville.  Our launch goal is Easter Sunday, April 21. If you would like to help with canvassing the neighborhood or to volunteer on Sunday afternoons to help with the mission, please see the Mission Team table.
·     Pumpkin Patch: We are looking for people to serve on the Pumpkin Patch steering Team.  Please see the Mission Team table to sign up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Deacons Are Important

When I was pastoring at Wewoka, there was a safe in my office that had not been opened in awhile.  We were able to get it open and found a lot of what you would expect to find in a safe as well as some historical items that had been preserved through the years.  One of the cool items we found was an old deacons journal that contained handwritten minutes of deacons meetings from the 1950’s and 60’s.  As I was going through the book I realized I recognized the handwriting of one section and found even the doodling around the sides familiar.  I began to dig deeper into who had been secretary during that time and discovered my suspicion to be true.  My grandfather, Ted Beshears, had written the notes to those meetings.  In fact, both of my grandfathers were deacons and present in many of those meetings.  One of the great foundations God gave me in my life was having both grandfathers serve as deacons as well as a father who serves in ministry.

Because of the legacy left from my grandfathers, I have always had a respect for the office and appreciated the sacrifice of lay leaders in the church who take on the important responsibility.  We are currently in the process of electing new deacons.  We should not take this lightly.  Deacons serve an important function within the body of the church.  In Acts 6 deacons were constituted in order to serve an important function within the church. There was division in the church over who was getting served.  They determined to create an office to fill this need.  They didn’t just call anyone.  Acts 6:3 says, “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”  They were needed to support the unity of the church and to help those in need.

Our deacons serve in this legacy with the same function.  Our deacons support the unity of the church, help widows/widowers and those in need, support the pastor in ministry, and pray during our worship services.  We ask that you take these nominations seriously.  Pray for God’s wisdom as you fill out your nominations.  We are passing out nomination ballots Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening as well as next Sunday morning.  The ballots are due by the end of Sunday morning worship service on February 10.  Please read the qualifications and be sure to sign your ballot.  Only deacons will see these ballots but we must insure that only church members vote and we only receive one ballot per person.  I am excited to see who God raises up to help us during this time of our church.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Don’t Justify Racism

As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day there becomes a lot of discussion surrounding racism in America.  Over fifty years after his assassination racism finds itself alive in well in American culture. Racism has been a problem and a symptom of the fallen world which goes back to the earliest of human history. Jesus addressed the racism in his day repeatedly.  He used a Samaritan as the example of love when he told the story of the Good Samaritan. He was criticized frequently by his acceptance of those who were not Jews.  He even talked to the woman at the well about the need for water in which she would never thirst again.  In a culture that hated everyone who was not like them, Jesus rose above it and showed love to everyone despite race, sex, social status or nationality.  

You would think that Jesus’ example would be enough for the Church throughout history to champion acceptance and flee from racism.  Though the Church has on occasion stood up for unity above race, much of our history is marred by being on the wrong side of this issue.  Southern Baptists have at our origin racism as one of the driving issues for our split from Baptists in the north.  Baptists split between north and south years before the Civil War.  The Southern Baptist Convention has worked hard over the last several years repenting publicly for that sin and has worked to bring racial reconciliation and racial diversity to be part of our identity. Yet, we find Sunday morning as the most segregated time in American culture.

I find that most Christians are blind to their own racism.  We do not call it racism because we try to justify it in order to legitimize it in our own eyes.  We point the finger at the other side and use data analysis to try to prove why it is their fault and not ours.  We use “token” co-workers and friends to prove to others how we are not racist while at the same time not seeing them as our equal in any way.  The Jews, led by the Pharisees, had a lot of religious reasons to hate Samaritans and a lot of political reasons to hate the Romans. Yet Jesus contradicted those reasons by being their friend and equalizing all races by dying on the cross for all.  Jesus came to save sinners and in sin we are all equal.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Checking out at the grocery store the other day I noticed Time Magazine had reprinted a magazine from a few years ago on the identity of Jesus.  I decided to grab it and see what a secular magazine had to say about my Savior.  The subtitle of the edition says, “Who do you say that I am?”.  It is the quote from Jesus from his conversation with his disciples before Peter gave the response, “You are the Christ”.  It is an interesting quote to put on a secular magazine in a society where everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion is supposed to be given the same authority as anyone else’s opinion.  We live in a society that says it doesn’t matter what you think, what is right for you may not be right for me and what is right for me may not be right for you.  This attitude is the exact opposite of what Jesus was communicating with his disciples when he asked the question.  There was, and still is, a correct answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?”

I am beginning a new series this week entitled “Identity”.  We are looking at the seven “I am” statements that Jesus makes in the Gospel of John.  The world can say whatever they want about who they think Jesus is, but Jesus makes it very clear in Scripture who he is.  These seven “I am” statements are used by Jesus to tell us his identity and specifically his identity as God.  The world can use whatever means they have to identify who Jesus is, but if it is contrary to who Jesus claims to be, they are wrong.  I challenge you to be consistent during this series and learn what Jesus is teaching us as he reveals his identity.  There is a right and wrong answer to Jesus’ question.

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...