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As I stated in the first blog post of this series (located here), we recently took a church bus trip and visited the painted churches of Schulenburg, Texas. These small town, Texas churches are made up of Czech and German Catholic communities who have meeting for over one hundred years.

As I was touring these church buildings, I was brought into a time of reflection on my upbringing. Because I too am Czech and I was raised in the Catholic church, I was rushed back to the times when my family met for family reunions at a small church just like the ones we were visiting. It was really cool and it brought back some things that I had not noticed as I was growing up.

For one thing I began to notice the BBQ pits. At every church we visited there were BBQ pits built out behind the church with an awning for picnic tables to accommodate meals on the grounds.

I loved this because it expressed to me the need for community and family within the church. Let’s face it, many of us do not know the people who live next door because we are in such a rush. But for church, this should not be the case. We are a family and we should act like a family and share a meal together every so often.

I loved this because it showed me the desire to meet as a church family. Think about it. There were church members who desired to meet as a church family enough to set aside the plans and the finances to build the space, and there are members currently who still desire to use the facility today. I see so often that people have lost the desire to spend time with those they go to church with and it saddens me. I also think it saddens our Lord. How it must frustrate Him when His children don’t get along or don’t get together.

As I think about this, I want to encourage you to set aside some time to fellowship with the people of your church. Seek to understand who they are. Share life with them. Love on them. Be a part of God’s family.

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Last week, First Baptist Church took a bus trip to the painted churches in Schulenburg, TX. This trip was an all day affair to visit churches that have been around over 100 years and have been maintained by the members of the church.

I know that you are thinking, “What is so special about that?” Well, these churches are hand painted from top to bottom and they are BEAUTIFUL!

But what really had me thinking on this trip was the incredible amount of dedication these church members had for their church!

Let’s face it. In our self serving, immediate gratification based society, we often see church as something that should serve my needs and should be there when I need it. But doesn’t require much dedication or loyalty from me. With this mentality I think we have lost the real reason for church. We have made church about us and not about God. (Acts 2:42-47)

When we were touring these churches I could not stop thinking about how many hours this would have taken. How much sacrifice it would have taken. How much time away from work of family this would have required. How many TV shows or social events would have been missed. (Hebrews 10:24–25)

I believe this reveals something for every person that is member of the church. Church is not about us. It is about our God. It is about serving and sacrificing for Him. It is about living the life He has called us to. It is about being on Mission with Him. (Gal. 2:20)

My hope with the post is that you become encouraged through the witness of these faithful church member’s example and you begin to serve our God in your church with the same self sacrifice and dedication. (Ephesians 4:11–12)


And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47, ESV)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11–12, ESV)

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

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Why is baptism so important?

That was my question as a new believer in Christ. Like many who were raised in a religious home, I didn’t find a need or desire in my life for baptism. I would often rely on my religious actions before salvation to claim that there was no real need for another religious action such as baptism. In this time I had many work to convince me with common arguments regarding baptism. However, they never motivated me to get baptized. Looking back on that time and knowing my heart, I can see that the issue was a heart issue. I did not understand how important baptism is because I did not understand how important Christ was to my life.

Mark alludes to this in Mark 1:9–11.

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

These passages begin by describing a set of ordinary things where a very divine encounter occurs.

  • The Ordinary
    • those days – The days of John the Baptist’ ministry
    • in the Jordan – The Jordan river is not a special river
  • The Divine
    • A Divine Intervention – the heavens being torn open – The Lord opens the heaven to introduce a new advent and covenant of Christ.
    • A Divine Appointment – the Spirit descending on him like a dove – The Lord aligns all members of the Trinity in one place for a divine display of His glory.
    • A Divine Proclamation – a voice came from heaven – The Lord proclaims a divine announcement for His presence on Earth.
    • A Divine Purpose – You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased – The Lord declares his divine purpose of sending His beloved Son to die for the sins of man.

As we see this intermingling of the ordinary of this world with the divine of the heavens, we can see that both come together at the baptism of Jesus Christ.

Isn’t it interesting how God chose this moment to reveal himself to the world through miraculous measures at the time baptism.

I believe that this show us that the Lord values baptism immensely.

Therefore, when we do not hold the same reverential respect and awe for baptism in our own lives we are stating that what God values is not what we value.

This my friends is disobedience against God and His values.

Friends, let us hold God and His values as our values. That is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

 

A Plea For Spiritual Awakening

Anthony —  April 16, 2015 — 1 Comment

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if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV)

Here in Jewett, we have recently been experiencing a time of Spiritual Awakening. Over the last 6 weeks or so we have seen many begin a relationship with Jesus Christ and follow through with baptism, we have seen some accept a call to vocational ministry, and we have seen several join the church body. This time of renewal has been simply awesome as we have seen God do great things through the lives of His people.

As I am here reflecting on this time of harvest, I cant help but think that this must be a small glimpse of what the early church experienced in Acts. Obviously we are not seeing the thousands added to our number like they were.  But the Spirit of the Lord is moving for sure. The whole thing is AWESOME!

That is why I am writing this blog after neglecting this website for so long. I am PUMPED for what God has done and what He is doing!

And I want to plead with you to seek the Lord for Spiritual Awakening in your church family. I know that there are many who are constantly praying for the Lord to bring awakening and I want everyone to join them. The Lord promises through His Word that He will hear and answer. We can trust that He is faithful to His promises.

Therefore, let us pray for the Lord to move greatly and for many to come to a saving relationship in Jesus Christ.

 

GospelFocus_SlideLast weekend’s sermon on Mark 2:13-17 “Jesus Calls Sinners” from the series, Gospel Focus For the Christian Life is online!

Check it out HERE!

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As I sit down today to try to catch up with ministry thank you & encouragement notes (an attempt that I am forever behind on) I cannot help but realize how hard this is. This process is a hard one simply due to the amount of notes I would love to send combined with a lack of time and energy required for writing all the people who have, are, and continually impacting my life in ministry. There are so many around me that are growing in their walks with Christ & being used as the hands and feet of Jesus that it is hard not to think about the words of Paul to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:19–25
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

These Scriptures are an encouragement to me & I strive to fulfill them in the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have also seen how these Scriptures ring true in our culture today. There are so many around us that simply need a kind word of encouragement in life & in faith.

I would like to exhort you today as Paul did the Hebrews to encourage someone you know in the faith. Tell them how great they are doing. Tell them how their walk has affected your life. Tell them how their sacrifice is worth it and how it is building the Kingdom of the Lord.

It will not take too long.

Who will you encourage today?

WebsiteBanner_RevivalAfter recently coming back from preaching a revival and then finishing a revival at my home church, I have had a few ideas run through my head on preparing for a revival. I have preached and participated in several revivals in the past and feel qualified to quickly spot whether a revival is going to be a success or not. What I have found is that a revival is thrive or dive depending on the preparation of the host church. As anyone who has been a part of a revival in the past knows, we are no longer in the era of the Billy Graham Crusades when hundreds would come out of the wood work to attend a revival. Therefore, the church must be prepared to reach out in order to reach their communities for Christ. Below I have compiled a short outline for pastors preparing for revival at their church in the hopes that it can be a great success and many will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Pray 

Prayer is obviously the most important thing when preparing for revival. Without the Lord’s hand, nothing will happen. Therefore we must lead our congregations to pray for the revival that is to come. Consider using a prayer guide or book mark in the weeks leading up to the revival. Make sure that the revival is at the fore front of the prayer meeting and every one is joined together in praying for the services.

    • Pray for the Lord’s presence
    • Pray for the speaker
    • Pray for the musician
    • Pray for the preparation
    • Pray for the invitations that will be given in the community
    • Pray for new life and renewed vigor for the church members
    • Pray for new life and salvation for the lost who will attend
    • Pray for protection from the enemy

 

Plan

Planning is a HUGE part of the revival preparation as well. One of the saddest things to see at a revival is when the attendance dives in the middle of the revival. So ask yourself,”How will we build excitement every night?”, “What can I do to give my members a reason to invite their friends?”, “How can I make it easy for my members to invite the community?”

    • Raffle Drawings – In some contexts having a raffle is a good idea.
    • Evening Events – Theme nights can also be fun. “Sundaes on Sunday”, “Dunk-A-Deacon”, “Battle of the Sexes Night”, “Pack-A-Pew Night” There are more than can be named here. Just get creative and think outside of the box.
    • Daily Invitations – What tool can you provide your people to make it easy to invite others they know? Post cards, Invite cards, what?
    • Spontaneous Invitation – How can you make it easy for your people to invite those they run into in the community?

 

Market

Marketing is a big part of today’s world and the church should be jumping in to engage those in the world. Don’t plan a revival only for your church members but use it as an opportunity to reach you community with the gospel message. Here are few basic and relatively in expensive ways to mass market to your community.

    • Flyers / Posters / Invite Cards
    • Banners In front of your church and around town
    • Direct Mail Out
    • Local News Paper Ad.
    • Local Radio Ad.
    • Social Media Campaign – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etc.
 Revival Flyer Example

 

Move

Move! That’s Right! Get Out There & Beat The Bushes! Sense you are prayed up and prepared, hit the pavement and see what God will do with you and your people. You will be amazed at how your community will respond with a simple invitation to church.

  • Door-to-Door Campaign
  • Invite Your Neighbor Campaign
  • Paper the town Campaign 

Now, I know this is not a comprehensive list and I am still fleshing out my thoughts on some of this but it is a start.

In fact, if you have some other ideas on how to prepare your church for a revival, I would love to hear about them. Simply comment below.

 

Last weekend’s sermon on 1John 5:1-5 “The Four Marks of Faith” is online!

Check it out HERE!

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Personal Reflection from the Reading

Nathan Lorick, Director of Evangelism for the SBTC visited our local association a few months back and gave out this wonderful little resource to our local pastors and for that I am very appreciative. In his book Dying to Grow, Lorick dives into the struggles of the local church to share the gospel and what evangelism looks like for the local church.

Lorick begins his work with diagnosing one of the major heart issues of the church. This is accomplished through describing the apathy that has grown in regards to sharing the good news of the gospel by church members and church leadership in Southern Baptist churches. Lorick then takes the reader through some correction action for heart change and ends the book with some practical application for every church to reach the lost in their context.

This short book is packed with sixteen chapters of great information on evangelism for members and pastors. In my opinion, Dying to Grow should be in the library of every pastor of an SBC church. This resource will ask some of the hard questions that must be asked when leading a congregation on mission to seek and save the lost, and will give the guidance to help implement a much needed evangelism strategy in your church. I am grateful for Nathan Lorick’s work with this book and I am praying for his continued mission after the lost with the SBTC.

(Reading Outline Can Be Found Here)

I am in no way affiliated with Nathan Lorick or his publishing company. These are my views and my views alone on his writing. If the writer or publishing co. has an issue with this blog, notify me and I will remove it.

Last weekend’s sermon on Exodus 3:1-10 “When God Appears” is online!

Check it out HERE!