Paslay2The Pastor's Pen

May 2019 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

Many of you have seen the disturbing images of the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Radical Muslim extremists targeted nationals and Christians in their cow-ardly attack upon worshippers who were gathering together to celebrate the resur-rection of Christ. It is hard for us as Americans to relate to an orchestrated attack like this on innocent people exercising their freedom to worship God. And to target Chris-tians on one of the most significant Sundays of the year is beyond evil. Sri Lanka, which is located on the southeastern tip of India in the Indian Ocean, is an island country of some 21 million people. The people are 70% Buddhists with Hinduism and Muslim being second and third according to religious preference. Christians make up about 7% of the population with 82% being Roman Catholic. I watched the news reports coming out of the major news networks as to how they would characterize this attack. Many of the liberal news sites did not call them Muslim extremists and didn’t call the people that were murdered Christians. Even a former president and a former presidential candidate referred to them as “Easter worshipers” in their tweets. The organization for the Muslim extremists who carried out the attacks said the at-tacks were in retaliation for the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Where do they get their instruction for these attacks? From their authority, the Koran. Will Christians carry out revenge for the attacks on Easter Sunday? Not according to the Scriptures. I Peter 2:21-24 tells us of our Savior, Jesus Christ “when He reviled did not revile in return, while suffering uttered no threats.” Jesus was as a lamb led to slaughter. He refused to take revenge on those who were beating and crucifying Him. What is our response in light of this horrible, cowardly attack on people of faith? Paul says in Romans to “never pay back evil for evil.” He also says in the same verses, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Over 300 people were mur-dered. Two of the cowards were suicide bombers. What horror awaited them after blowing themselves up to find out in eternity that they had been duped all this time and will spend eternity in hell. For the believers who perished, they will spend eternity with the Lord in heaven.

Bro. Jim

April 2019 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

The Soup & Sermon Series is going right now in our community. The Methodist Church is hosting the event through the Tuesday before Easter. The Soup & Sermon idea came from Bro. Earl Cumbie and has grown over the last six years. I have been able to speak three different times at his event. I shared some thoughts about the story of the Prodigal Son that I would like to reiterate in case you weren’t able to be there.

Many people with a church background are familiar with the account of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24. The son asks for his part of his inheritance and goes off and squanders it with loose and immoral living. But in verse seventeen, the wayward son realizes his sin and what it has done to him. The phrase “came to his senses” reminds us that sin can lead us astray and can blind us to reality. He had what one preacher has called a POD moment; point of desperation moment. No one is immune from drifting away from God at times in our lives. But the question is whether we come to grips with what those awful choices can do to us. We must realize our condition and humble ourselves before the Lord.

The passage goes on to remind us that in verse seventeen, the wayward son repents. He mouths these words, “I have sinned.” That my friend is confession and the biblical word for confession means “to say the same thing.” We begin the process of repentance when we agree with God about the sin that is in our lives. 1 John 1:9 reminds us that “if we CONFESS our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession leads to repentance. Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action. The wayward son didn’t just admit his sin; he got out of pigpen and headed home.

The final point in our journey back to God is to return. Verse eighteen reveals that the wayward son says, “I will go back.” He had sinned against his father and he needed to make amends. And when the prodigal son came to his senses, repented and returned to his father, what did his father do? He welcomed him with open arms and
celebrated the return of his wayward son. That is how our Heavenly Father responds when we come back to Him. I am reminded of the invitational hymn that I grew up on; “I’ve wandered far away from God, now I’m coming home. The paths of sin, too long I’ve trod, Lord, I’m coming home.” It is time that we return to the Lord!

March 2019 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

In our study in 1 Peter 2:1-3 this past Wednesday night, I shared an illustration I found about “The Diary of a Bible.” See if this relates to you: January 15. Been resting for a week. A few nights after the first of the year, my owner opened me, but no more. Another New Year’s resolution gone wrong. February 3. Owner picked me up and rushed off to Sunday School. February 23. Cleaning day. Dusted and put back in my place. April 2. Busy day. Owner had to present the lesson at a Bible study. Quickly looked up a lot of references. May 5. Grandma’s in town. Back in Grandma’s lap. A very comfortable place. May 8. She let a tear fall on John 14. May 10. Grandma’s gone. Back in my old place again. May 20. Baby born. They wrote his name on one of my pages. July 1. Packed in suitcase. Off for a vacation. July 20. Still in the suitcase. Almost everything else taken out. July 25. Home again. Quite a journey, though I don’t see why I went. August 16. Dusted again and put in a prominent place. The minister is to be here for dinner. August 20. Owner wrote Grandma’s death in the Family Record. He left his extra pair of glasses between my pages. December 31. Owner just found his glasses. Wonder if he will make any resolutions about me for the new year? If your Bible kept a personal diary, how much activity would there be? Is there a craving in your soul for God’s Word? There should be if you are a true believer! 1 Peter 2:2 tells us that we are to long for the pure milk of the Word. We should have a craving for the Word of God like a newborn has a craving for its mother’s milk. That is the only way we can grow effectively as Christians in our walk with Jesus. I want to challenge you in your devotional life to make the study of God’s Word a priority. Don’t allow the enemy to distract you from spending quality time with an open Bible and an open mind to what God has in store for you! Let’s grow up together!
Bro. Jim

February 2019 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

There is a mystery in knowing the will of God for our lives. The mystery is the unknown. If Jesus were to come into your house and ask what you would like to know, you would probably ask about what the future holds for you. I had a dream one night and I was trying to fast forward to the next year and I wanted to see who got up to preach in the pulpit at Grove’s First Baptist Church. Would it be me or someone else? Maybe you have thought along those same lines.
In Acts 9:1-6, we have the conversion of Saul to Paul. Saul thought he was being God’s little helper, but he was persecuting the church and going against the will of God. So, Saul was headed to Damascus on a mission to persecute the church when he had what we might call an interruption. God had other ideas and decided to intervene in Saul’s life. In Vs. 5, Saul asks questions from this heavenly voice that is speaking to him. He actually asks two insightful questions. “Who are you, Lord” and “What do You want me to do?” Once Saul became Paul, he lived the rest of his life obeying what he had asked of God on the road to Damascus.
We need to be doing the same thing today. We need to make sure we know that Jesus is Lord and that He is our Lord. It must be personal to each person. It is not enough for your parents to be faithful believers; it must be real in your life as well. Make sure that Jesus is the Captain of your soul. Then ask the second question. Lord, what do you want me to do for You? Be prepared to be challenged after asking that question.
Dr. Adrian Rogers tells a true story of a young ensign who had made his first trip across the ocean on a destroyer. He had impeccable training, so he was assigned to take the destroyer out of the harbor and bring it back to the United States. It was his first endeavor to do such a thing, and he wanted to do it right. He was very bright, a quick and eager learner. In a moment the deck was buzzing as he barked commands here and there. Though treacherous, everything was moving like a Swiss clock as that destroyer made its way out into the harbor. They were on their way in record time when someone came to the young ensign and delivered a radio message from the captain. That’s strange, he thought. But he read the message: “Young man, you've done an excellent job. You've done it with great speed, right according to the book. But you overlooked an unwritten rule. Next time, make certain the captain is on board.” He’d cleared the harbor but left the captain back on shore! No matter how wise your plans are and how capable you are, before you set sail anywhere, you'd better make certain your Captain is on board—that you’re in the will of God.
Church, let’s make sure we are asking the right questions and that our Captain is on board! I’m ready to respond to His leading and direction for us, are you?
Bro. Jim

January 2019 Edition from the Proclaimer Newsletter

As we approach a new year in the life of our church, I want to share some thoughts with you about what is happening in our congregation. Many of you that have been a part of our church family for a significant period of time know that we are going to miss Bro. Earl and Melony. Anytime a staff member gives nine plus years of service, that person makes an impact on our church family. It will be an adjustment for all of us and we obviously wish Bro. Earl and Melony the best as they enjoy their retirement. So, we are will be in a period of adjustment for a while.

As we go through this period of adjustment, we need the Lord to guide us to our next staff per-son who will come in and serve as we minister to our church family and community. I have shared with the deacon body and will be sharing with you in the days ahead concerning the direction we need to go. We must be willing to stretch our faith and trust the Lord in His leading. It is imperative that we seek the Lord and embrace His will for us. If we believe that God led Bro. Earl to retire and go in another direction, then He obviously has a person He is preparing to come to Grove’s First Baptist. This is an opportunity to shape the future of our church and lead us beyond 2019 or until the Lord returns. So, I am encouraging you to make our staff situation a matter of prayer and ask God to get us all on the same page in seeking His perfect will for our lives! Proverbs 3:5-6 comes to mind on this most important decision; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Another important event will be on January 13, 2019. We will be ordaining Jesse Carper to the deacon ministry. We are excited about Jesse accepting the call and having a willingness to serve within our church. He and Sonya have already been serving faithfully in our church and we are excited for him in taking this next step. We are looking at an afternoon service with an ordaining council meeting before the service. We will have details in the bulletin on Sunday. Pray for Jesse and Sonya as they serve as a team within the church body. And may it remind us all of our responsibilities as well. Jesus came to serve! We should be like Jesus and seek to serve!
Bro. Jim
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