Paslay2The Pastor's Pen

August 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

As I write my article, we are getting ready to do Vacation Bible School next week. We have a great group of volunteers that will help us in sharing the gospel with kids in this community. As I have shared before, VBS has been an integral part of my life for many years. As pastor, I have been involved with VBS since 1986. Before that, I helped in several churches as a lay-man. Also, I remember participating in two-week VBS at my home church in Skiatook. A lot of my Scripture memorization came from being a part of VBS. We need to see how important it is to teach kids about Jesus and God’s Word. They are not getting it anywhere else. I want to thank Terri and all the volunteers for making a commitment to our VBS!

There are some important events that are coming up in the next several months. We have another “Movie Night” scheduled for August 5th at 5:00 PM in the auditorium. We will be showing “I Can Only Imagine” based on a true story. Most people are familiar with the song with the same title but the story behind it is tremendous. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see the movie and we will be providing free popcorn and drinks. Grab some tickets and hand them out to your friends and family. We will be giving away some prizes as well, so mark your calen-dar for Sunday, August 5th at 5:00 PM

We are planning after Labor Day to start an AWANA program for kids on Wednesday evening. This is a very important ministry designed to make disciples of our children. This program can be an effective tool in reach-ing families with children in our community. We will need volunteers and support to implement this ministry. I am asking you to make this ministry a matter of prayer and would you seek the Lord about your involvement in AWANA? AWANA is a fun way for kids to learn about God through the Bible. I’m excited about this new project!

The Lord has blessed us in the last 5 years with our Block Party events. Well, it is that time of the year again. We are looking at Saturday, October 6th for our 3rd Block Party. We will need many volunteers as we reach out to our community and show our love and concern to them. We will be asking for your help in the days ahead. Be praying about how you can minister in impacting our community. More information will be coming soon!

2018 marks the 120th year of our church’s existence and we are going to celebrate this important milestone on Sunday, No-vember 4th. We are asking former pastors and staff to come back along with former members and friends that have been a part of our church in the past. We will have a time of reflection and celebration on that day. There will be a special morning service followed by a church-wide dinner. We will conclude with an afternoon service to culminate our time of celebration. Make plans to participate! These are some important events that can help with life-changing decisions in people’s lives.
Pray with me for their success!

July 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

In his book, “The Abolition of Man,” C.S. Lewis prophetically pointed to a problem that we are struggling with today.  He put his finger on the problem of relativism which is the idea there is no absolute truth in society.  Lewis knew that relativism would lead to the decay of morality and the lack of virtue in our society.  When we fail to teach the heart, we are left with intelligent men who behave like animals.  Lewis called it “men without chests.” 

We find ourselves today in the dilemma that Lewis was describing.  In this country, we used to have men and women who believed in absolutes.  They embraced and held convictions based on a rock, solid belief that the Bible was and is truth.  Our founding fathers had a moral compass that led them to establish this great nation with God’s help.  They didn’t stick their finger into the wind to see which way the cultural winds were blowing.  Our founding fathers didn’t take polls to determine what they believed in.  They sought true wisdom that only comes from above and refused to listen to the fleeting fallacies of wayward men.  We used to have men in the pulpits across this nation that were not afraid to say, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Instead, we have individuals claiming to be preachers that are more apt to say “Thus saith the culture” and are more interested in the size of their congregation than in the size of their congregation’s commitment to the Word of God. 

It doesn’t take long to look around this country to find the evidence of failure on the part of the church’s mandate from Christ to be salt and light in a dark and decaying culture.  The church was always supposed to be under the influence of the teachings of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.  But we were never supposed to get our marching orders from a culture that is evil and sinful.  Tragically, we see this happening almost every day in our country.  The Bible clearly teaches that we need transformation from Christ and not conformation from our culture.  Jesus desires of His disciples to be thermostats and not thermometers when it comes to morality.  We need preachers that are “not ashamed of the Gospel” but “are ashamed of the sins of our culture.”  We need “men with chests” who love Jesus and are willing to stand up for His principles regardless of the cost.

As we approach another Fourth of July holiday, may we remember that the freedom we enjoy is not cheap.  It is costly and must be guarded diligently.  I’m afraid that we are more and more becoming a nation that will “stand for nothing and will fall for anything.”  It makes me wonder if C.S. Lewis didn’t have it right: “We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”  God help us if we don’t change what we are becoming!

June 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

The citizens of Oklahoma will be voting on June 26, 2018, on State Question 788, entitled, “medical marijuana” that would legalize marijuana use for “supposed” medical use in our state. The group “Oklahomans for Health” has been getting signatures from Oklahomans to get the initiative petition on the ballot. Governor Fallin set the date for the vote on a primary election day in Oklahoma. If approved, Oklahoma will join California in passing the most liberal laws concerning marijuana use.
The group “Oklahomans for Health” wrote the language that is in the petition submitted to the state for a vote. On their website, they say they are for liberty and individual freedom. In other words, this state question is a ruse to ultimately get recreational marijuana legalized in the state. It is amazing to me that people won’t be honest with you when they want something. This group is hiding behind this “medical marijuana” state question to work for their ultimate goal: legalizing pot in Oklahoma. In their ads and billboards, they use the term cannabis instead of marijuana because they want people to be in the dark about this state question and what their true motives are. They want to be able to smoke pot and they are going to use the medical conditions of hurting Oklahomans to realize their goal.
If the Christian people in Oklahoma don’t stand up and defeat this state question and that is what it will be if it passes, it would allow a license holder to have 3 ounces of marijuana on his/her person, 8 ounces of marijuana at home, 6 mature marijuana plants, 6 seedling plants, 1 ounce of concentrated marijuana and 72 ounces of edible marijuana. According to Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director Jon Scully, a typical marijuana joint weighs a gram, so three ounces per person is about 85 joints. In their house, they’ll be able to possess eight ounces that’s about 226 joints. Six mature marijuana plants produce about a pound of marijuana, so the grand total is estimated at over 3,000 joints. Does that sound like an amount for medical use? It sounds more like getting in the business of smoking pot and distributing it. Also, “Medical Mari-juana” sales would be subject to 7% sales tax, with excess revenue divided between common education (75%) and drug and alcohol rehabilitation (25%). Have we ever heard about a proposed law or action that would help our schools in Oklahoma? I thought liquor, pari-mutuel betting and the lottery were supposed to cure all of our educational woes. NOT!
Notice the groups that are against this state question: Oklahoma State Medical Association, Oklahoma District Attorneys As-sociation, Oklahoma Hospital Association, Oklahoma Sheriffs Association, Oklahoma State Fraternal Order of Police are just a few that have gone on record opposing this state question. Also, the writers of the SQ788 have kept the language of the proposal as intentionally wide open as possible in order not to limit the conditions, illnesses or diseases that marijuana can be prescribed for, or to monitor prescribing physicians. The term “physician” in the language includes not only MDs and DOs but also dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists and veterinarians. When was the last time you went to a veterinar-ian for healthcare? This is not what Oklahoma needs in our state. We already have liquid cannabis laws that help those who have medical conditions that could be treated legally and with doctor’s supervision.
My counsel as your pastor; Don’t get high on State Question 788! Stay sober and vote NO!

May 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

Could the Bible be banned in some parts of our country?  I used to think that would never happen but now I’m not sure.  I read a very chilling article by David French concerning a piece of legislation coming out of California that should cause concern in every believer’s heart.  Assembly Bill 2943 would make it an “unlawful business practice” to engage in “a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that advertise, offer to engage in, or do engage in “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”  The bill then defines “sexual orientation change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.”

Anyway you look at this potential piece of legislation, this is radical.  The Christian view based on Scripture is that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.  Quoting Mr. French in his article, “when it comes to “gender expression,” there is no difference between “sex” and “gender,” and the Christian response to gender dysphoria is compassion and treatment, not indulgence and surgical mutilation.”  The politicians in California are operating on a certain premise; don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up. And if we can’t force you to agree with our radical views, we will silence you.

As your pastor, I have tried to be compassionate and yet truthful to what the Bible says about homosexuality, transgenderism and other sexual issues in this country.  But if this bill becomes law in California, it could be used to ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality. That, my friend, would also include the Bible which obviously goes against the far left’s teaching on this subject.  

I remember watching the movie, “Footloose” after my high school years.  It has in one of the scenes Christians burning books at the school library because they didn’t agree with what was in the books.  It made Christians look bad throughout the movie. Now it is the radical left of this country that is seeking to silence Christians and ban books that teach biblical truth.  Does this news concern you? It should.

Rest assure, no California law will silence me as pastor from proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.  Biblical marriage is between a man and a woman. God created male and female and there is no confusion concerning gender in God’s Word.  The confusion that is going on is rebellion and disobedience against a Holy God that created us. People who seek to transition and have gender reassignment surgery are in essence “shaking their fists” in the face of the Creator who made them.  We need for this nonsense to stop. God’s Word will not be replaced by man’s ignorance. Christians will not be silenced. We will stand up and defend the liberating Word of God. God’s Word doesn’t need to be banned, it needs to be believed!

April 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

This coming August, we will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Grove’s First Baptist Church.  As a staff, we have discussed some ideas concerning the August 19th date which is our anniversary date as a church.  We hope to be sharing some more ideas with you along with setting up a committee to help us plan the events for that particular weekend. 

In the previous churches that I’ve pastored, we have celebrated special anniversary dates concerning the history of the churches.  It has been a time of celebration and the inviting back of former staff and members.  I believe it is important that we take time and remember the past and recognize God’s blessings down through the years.  By doing so, we can also be challenged to be faithful in the present age and cast a vision for the future.  The Lord has been good to this church and we can do our part in preparing for an opportunity to thank the Lord for his past provisions and victories.  We can also pray that God would continue to have His hand on our church as we seek to glorify Him in the future. 

A couple of years ago, we did a study on the seven churches in the book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  I read a book by Dr. Erwin Lutzer who had traveled to modern day Turkey to visit where these churches used to be.  Jesus spoke to each church and basically gave a critique and a challenge.  Did the churches heed Jesus’ advice?  Unfortunately, not one of the churches survived.  They are gone and have been replaced by mosques of the Muslim religion.  Just because a church has been established by godly men and women doesn’t mean that the church will survive.  So what about Grove’s First Baptist Church?

Jesus gave the church instructions in order to survive and thrive in this dark and difficult world.  Based on
Scripture, we must be willing to acknowledge that Christ is the head of the church.  We must also take the Great Commission seriously that commands us to go and make disciples.  It is also imperative that we embrace Jesus’ words in Acts 1 whereby He command us to be witnesses here in Grove, also in Delaware Country, in the state of Oklahoma, in the United States of America and throughout the world.  One hundred and twenty years is quite an accomplishment but compared to eternity, it is just a drop in a bucket.  As we look toward this 120th anniversary, let us determine to be found faithful before our Lord Jesus Christ!  Join me in prayer as we plan for this special time in the life of our church.

March 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

The news that Billy Graham had passed away didn’t surprise me, but it caused me to stop and think about a man that God used mightily in this world for many years. Billy Graham had a passion for sharing the Gospel. He refused to allow the saving message of Jesus to get cluttered in the political squabbles of the day. Every night in his many crusades, he presented the Gospel in the most clear and simple way that people could understand that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. The legacy of Billy Graham is that he was faithful and true to share the uncompromising Gospel to the whole world.
My one opportunity to hear Billy Graham in person was in Oklahoma City back in June of 2003. We took a group of our people from Henryetta, FBC and traveled to Oklahoma City to hear him for what would be his final trip to Oklahoma. I have always been impressed with his preaching style and his simple and direct approach to sharing the saving message of the Gospel. In a sense, he was America’s pastor because he was highly respected and was a man of impeccable character. You never saw his name associated with scandal. There will never be another one like Billy Graham.
We have lost a giant of the faithful and true preachers of our time. In this day and age of political correctness and moral
ambivalence, we need to be true to the saving message of the Gospel and proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Most individuals who have commented on Billy Graham’s passing have been encouraging and thoughtful. But there is always one that stands out and shows how stupid they are. Country Music singer, Cheli Wright, a lesbian, came out with a tweet about Billy Graham. Here is what she said; “I appreciate that Billy Graham made a huge impact on faith communities around the world while at the same time, recognizing that his message about LGBTQ people was devastating to millions; me included,” she writes. “I’d like to think that God has already corrected him for his errors.”
His errors? What errors? Oh, that homosexuality is an abomination to God, or that same sex marriage goes against the traditional, biblical view of marriage? I must admit that I almost choked on her statement about God correcting him. It was not Billy Graham that chose to change the Bible to fit the sins of the people so they would feel good about their perversion. It was not Billy Graham that watered down the Gospel so that it could be a one size fits all regardless of your lifestyle choices. Billy Graham knew that the only way lost sinners could be saved is by admitting they were sinners and choosing to repent of that sin. Many times as I heard him preaching he would quote that famous verse in John 3; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Billy Graham believed the Gospel; He preached the Gospel; and most of all he lived the Gospel. “Precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of His saints.” Another saint has gone home! Can you imagine the rejoicing going on in Heaven right now?

February 2018 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

This article is being written one week before Lorie and I along with thirty others board a plane that will ultimately land in Israel.  And this article maybe the most enjoyable of all.  By now, you have heard that Grove’s First Baptist Church has finished what it started.  With the Lord’s help and guidance, we are now debt free as a church.  The big albatross is off our necks.  Our “Along the Way” Fund is officially complete.  PRAISE THE LORD!

Now that we have “finished what we’ve started,” we need to embrace the moment and begin to ask God what He wants for us now as a congregation.  Recently, a question has been asked as to whether the church has a master plan for the next five or ten years.  The simple answer is “No.”  As your pastor, I have been focusing on our present ministry and getting rid of our debt.  So forgive me for not being on top of a plan for the near future.  But I want you to know that my heart’s desire is to lead us to embrace the plan that God has for us.  We need a clear direction from the Lord and we need to come together as a body that seeks to worship and glorify God.  What we do in seeking God’s will is of utmost importance for the health of the church.  I am asking you to pray for your pastor, the staff, the deacon body and a Long Range Planning Committee that the church has put in place to look to the future needs and plans that will guide our path in the days and years to come.

When Grove’s First Baptist Church swapped properties with Cornerstone, it was evident that we were gaining worship space but were losing educational space by over half from our previous church site.  As we enter the second month of 2018, we cannot continue to have Sunday School classes in hallways and in the fellowship hall and grow as God desires for us.  We must address our space issues but do so with the wisdom from God.  If we are to fulfill the Great Commission from Matthew 28, we must be willing to dream and plan for the future.  I am asking you to dream and help us plan.  That, my friend, will cost us nothing.  We need time to pray and seek the Lord!

I can assure you as your pastor that I will not lead this church to go into a suffocating debt that we found ourselves in when we agreed to swap properties with Cornerstone.  When I was pastor in Henryetta, we engaged in a building program to build a Family Life Center with a commercial kitchen, classrooms and an office complex.  We raised a significant portion of the money and agreed as a church not to begin until we agreed on a plan.  We built a very functional building for $925,000 and were able to be debt free three years after occupying the building.  God wowed us with some wonderful ways to bless the church financially.  I believe He can do the same and even more at
Grove’s First Baptist Church.  I am excited about what is in store for us as a church.  Certainly, the
enemy will do everything he can do to divide us and get us off track.  That is why prayer must be
the starting point!  Will you join me?  May God richly bless you!

Bro. Jim


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