Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Rewind for Grace Baptist Church!

Year End Review for Grace Baptist Church

2016 was a busy and amazing year. We set some goals: launching our new contemporary worship service, launching a new church website, and getting a new church logo.

New Church Logo!
I am excited to say that we met those goals! Here is a review of the year.

We met our goals! We set out though prayer, dedication, and heard work to launch the Common Ground Worship service on August 21, 2016. Here is a photo of the Oasis stage before the launch and after.

Oasis Before Common Ground
Oasis After Common Ground Launch
Our volunteers spent a lot of hours practicing worship songs, painting, working on the floors, and giving the Oasis a facelift. You will also see below that he overall Sunday Morning Worship attendance, Traditional Worship attendance, and Common Ground’s attendance. We have as many or more each week attending Common Ground than some churches in our county see on a given Sunday Morning. The successful launch of the Common Ground Worship service added to our church's Great Commission faithfulness.

2015 vs. 2016 Sunday Morning Attendance

When we launched this service we were hoping to see a 10% overall increase in Sunday Morning attendance, and we have already scene that in December! I am excited to see what God will do in 2017!

Increase in Guests attending our Sunday Morning Worship Service:

In the above chart you can see an increase in the overall visitor flow. Please note that these numbers are conservative estimates.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What is Grace Baptist Church Doing for the Christmas Weekend?

On Christmas Eve, we will have our candlelight service at 5:00 PM. We will observe the Lord's Supper, and end the service with candlelight.

Christmas this year happens to fall on Christmas Day. It has happened several times since I have been in the ministry. And while many megachurches will be taking the day off, I am asking myself why would you do that? I understand trying to be family friendly and being low on volunteers. But this is a day when many who don’t normally attend our worship services will do so. Why pass an opportunity to preach the gospel? After all, no “holy day” trumps any other day biblically speaking. So here is what we are going to do. Check the schedule below:

8:30 am - Coffee with Grace Baptist Church

9:15 am – Combined Sunday School (Note: Adult Classes will be combined in the Fellowship Hall, Preschool in the preschool department, Children's will be combined upstairs in the children's department, and youth combine in the Oasis.)

10:30 am – Combined Worship Service in the Sanctuary 

There will be no Wednesday Night gathering on December 30, and January 1st will be a normal Sunday Morning.  Note we will not have any PM services or actives on January 1st.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Do We Work Through Violent Acts of Murder?

As a minister of the gospel since 2001, I have ministered in some difficult situations over the years. I have ministered to a family with a double murder of a 12-year-old girl and her mother by the girl’s half-brother, a 4-year-old beaten to death a week before Christmas by his mother’s boyfriend, the murder-suicide of my aunt by her husband, and the murder of my cousin’s father and step-mother by their half-brother. These acts all seem brutal and depraved even senseless. At times the sovereignty of God provides great comfort, but other times the sovereignty of God is difficult for us. It was the depravity of man’s acts that drove Charles Bradley Templeton, a former friend of Billy Graham and evangelist, to be an agnostic. I want to remind us of what God has told us in his word. Here are four truths that have helped me during these times:

  • Believe that Mankind remains broken and depraved, apart from Christ Jesus.- The total depravity of man is seen throughout the Bible. Man’s heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible also teaches us that man is born dead in transgression and sin (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5). We want to excuse violent, depraved acts of murder with mental health, drugs, or demonic influence. We don’t want to think that anyone, especially us, is capable of such horrific depraved acts, but the reality remains we are fully capable of committing depraved acts of murder and much worse all on our own!
  • Be Comforted that God alone understands your emotional trauma and suffering.- God’s son had to endure the excruciating pain of being crucified on the cross. God the Father and Holy Spirit had to endure the trauma and suffering of Jesus the son being violently executed by men who hated him. God alone understands the emotional pain you endure.
  • Be renewed through God’s sustaining because His grace is enough.- The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. This thorn kept him humble all the days of his life. In many ways a tragic murder is a very humbling experience, the feeling of shock and disorientation. We are reminded we are not in control of our lives nor this world. Then the grief sets in, it feels much like a thorn in the heart. Paul said this, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –I Corinthians 12:9-10
  • Don’t move on, move forward.- As a pastor and GriefShare leader, I often hear the stupid things people say to the grieving. One of those statements is “just move on.” I will be the first to admit, it is quite possible to get stuck in grief, but after an event like one’s life changes for the rest of our days. We can move forward taking the good memories of our loved ones, their examples of good they modeled, and continue their legacy. One who has suffered loss to this degree is forever changed.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Which English Bible Translation is the Best? (Part 2)

Please see Part 1 of this Blog to better understand it as a whole. Here is the continuation of the list:

·      New King James Version (NKJV)
o   Strengths:
§  Provides a modern King James Version for people who love the King James Version
o   Weakness:
§  Includes passages latter added by scribes into the Biblical text in order not to hurt sales.
§  Cowardly approach to such passages as 1 John 5:7
o   Format: Word for Word – a revision of KJV
o   Reading Level: 7th Grade

·      New Living Translation (NLT)
o   Strengths:
§  Reads very smoothly
§  Excellent for reading large sections of the Bible
§  Good translation for new Christians, people with low grade level reading, like children.
§  Good paragraphing
o   Weaknesses:
§  Not a good verse by verse study bible
o   Format: Dynamic equivalence or though for thought.
o   Reading Level: 6th Grade

·      English Standard Version
o   Strengths:
§  From the KJV tradition of translation
§  More theological work, does not sacrifice author’s intent for inclusive or gender neutral language.
§  Excellent Translation for a serious student of bible and theology
o   Weakness:
§  Use of theological works like propitiation may be confusing for young believers.
§  The ESV’s use of “wife” as a translation of γυνή in 1 Corinthians 11 is very questionable. This passage is about the status and behavior suitable to womankind, not just of wives.
§  Some of the faults are quite annoying. But mostly they are the kind of minor faults that may be observed in any version.
o   Format: Word for Word following the RSV tradition of translation
o   Reading Level: 10th Grade
·      Holman Christian Standard
o   Strengths:
§  Readability- smooth reading great for use in a local church
§  Good Paragraphing and Designation of Poetry
§  Only minor move towards thought for thought format
o   Weaknesses:
§  inconsistent way in which YHWH is translated within the Old Testament (sometimes by Yahweh, sometimes as LORD)
§  tendency toward colloquialisms, and its utilization of an "optimal equivalence" translation method which occupies a position part way toward dynamic equivalence from formal equivalence—representing a small movement in the direction which eventually leads to paraphrase.
o   Format: Balanced approach between thought for thought and word for word, although I believe it leans more towards word for word.
o   Reading Level: 7th Grade
·      The Message
o   Strengths:
§  Stimulating devotional literature
o   Weaknesses:
§  Long and formal sounding words replaced with punchy phrases.
§  Often portrays scripture more colorful than the original.
§  Has a psychologizing tendency, never to be a stand-alone read for a believer.
o   Format: Extreme colloquial. It is not be understood to be a bible but rather a paraphrase for a devotional supplement only.

o   Reading Level: 4th Grade