We’re almost through January! If you are a planner, you may have Easter already planned and have been working on summer. If you are not, you might want to start planning what you’ll get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day.
On that note, let’s look at LOVE . It is the one word command that God gave every single one of us repeatedly. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Love one another just as I have loved you. They will know us by our love. We love because He first loved us. The Bible, even with its historical record of battles, wars, and defining sin, is still foremost a book about love: God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for one another.
How are we loving those who don't know Christ? How are we loving our neighborhoods and communities?
"How Do We Impact Culture for Christ?" by Greg Laurie
The Bible says we should not be conformed to this world. It also tells us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
So how do we impact our culture today? How can we change it for the better? The apostle Paul sheds some light on this: "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world" (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).
The idea is that we want to influence the world, not have the world influence us. And we start by speaking in a language people can understand. As believers, we can get frustrated because it doesn't seem like people are listening to us. But maybe it is because we sound like we are from a different planet.
If we want to engage this biblically illiterate culture, we have to break the terms down.
Here are some articles with ideas for loving and reaching our culture and communities:
From Outreach Magazine, "4 Small-Church Strategies to Maximize Your Community Impact"
From Christianity Today, "Outreach and Evangelism: What Works Today?"
From Outreach Magazine, "10 Reasons Churches Don't Reach Millennials"
Podcast: "How to Do Ministry in a De-Churched Context with Jon Ritner"
From Lifeway Pastors, "6 Areas Where Ministry and the Culture Collide"
This article is not like the ones we usually post. It is devotional and profound as the writer shares his experience of truly connecting with a disabled man. In that experience, he learned more about God's love. When we think of loving others and loving our community, we never know who God might bring us to and who He might help us to become. However, when we accept that call, God moves and blesses in unforeseen ways. Enjoy this article by Henri Nouwen "Finding Vocation in Downward Mobility"
Is God leading your church to reach out to people with special needs? Here is a place to find some information. Lifeway also has several resources to help churches with this ministry.
Help your children learn to love their neighbors.
Children's Ministry Day is Saturday, February 18!
"It's More than Compassion"
By Heather Keller on January 03, 2017
As a former classroom teacher, I wanted the children in my care to be compassionate toward each other, the members of our school, and our community. I created projects to encourage children to understand how other people felt in the situations we learned about, but also created a desire to reach out to someone with a kind word or deed.
It wasn’t always perfect, but my prayer was that those experiences would help children learn to be better citizens.
While compassion is a worthy virtue for adults to model and children to learn, it is just the beginning of what we want children to learn as they grow in Christ.
Children’s Ministry Day 2017: Love Your Neighbor is the perfect time to help children bridge what they are learning about compassion in school and at home with the love of Christ. It may sound like a challenge, but, in reality, missions experiences are just 1 step beyond compassion. If you can create a compassion project, you can create a missions experience!
1. See a need. Where are the needs in your community? Is there an unchurched population of senior adults who need physical help in their yards? Is there a woman’s shelter nearby? Maybe a soup kitchen or a homeless ministry? Now consider: What can children do to meet a need in that ministry?
2. Share God’s love for the person. Now that you have determined a physical need and how to meet it, decide how you will let the person know that our God loves and wants a relationship with him or her. This could be as simple as sharing how God brought you or a loved one through a recent time of need, but should absolutely let the person know that you love them because God loves them.
3. Pray for God to open the eyes of your children and your church. Ask God to help the children in your organization see how they can make a difference in their community by helping meet physical needs while they share God’s love. Ask God to build a desire in your congregation members’ hearts to work beside children to reach your community.
While compassion is an amazing virtue for us to instill in our children, we help them develop missional lifestyles by showing them how to turn compassion into missions.
*For more about Children’s Ministry Day, visit wmu.com/cmd.
Do We Love the Word of God?
Two great blog posts and two great articles to get you thinking.
"Why You Should Devote Yourself to Scripture Memory"
One of my earliest memories of church as a young boy was working on memory verses. Though my middle and high school years I was devoted to anything but Scripture, the verses I learned during early years stuck with me. I became a believer during my second year of college and the men who taught me how to follow Jesus encouraged me in the discipline of Scripture memory. The passages and individual verses I learned in those early years as a believer shaped my Christian growth and set the course for the rest of my Christian life.
My greatest struggle with Scripture memory is daily consistency, and I doubt that I am alone. Many of us suffer from the disease of being great starters but fumbling on day to day follow through.
"Jesus Didn't Journal"
When I was growing up, what I heard, pretty much exclusively, was that maturing as a Christian was all about the Quiet Time. It had to be 30 minutes "to count" and 45 was better. What wasn't said but we all learned anyway was that sometime later that day, you had to figure out a "humble" way to let everyone know you'd had your Quiet Time. "As I was reading in Amos this morning …"
It needed to be done in the morning (that part always confused me; I'm not sure even God wants to talk to me first thing in the morning).
Here is a wonderful article about how a church is using Bible memorization to bless the congregation.
"The Word by Heart" by Tyler Thompson
On Sunday morning in an impoverished Chicago neighborhood, a young woman walks to the front of a small congregation, her heels clicking on the shiny wooden floor. It's not uncommon for new church plants to meet in public high schools, but this one is on a block that has seen 41 homicides since 2006. She plants her feet and looks into the faces before her: businessmen, Nigerian immigrants in flowing cotton dresses, mothers holding infants, college students in expensive cardigans sitting next to homeless walk-ins. They have rested their bulletins and are gazing back at her, expectant. She fills her lungs with air and announces: “A reading from the prophet Amos …”
Only it’s not a “reading” at all. Her hands hang empty at her side; there is no podium, no projection, no in-ear prompts. She opens her mouth and recites a lengthy passage from Amos, a monologue memorized word-for-word from the English Standard translation.
Some interesting statistics are in this article by David Kinnaman
"Millennials and the Bible"
Many Millennials (people between 18 and 31) are turning away from religion. How has this affected their view of Christianity's sacred text?
In a study we conducted in partnership with American Bible Society and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Barna team found good news for the Good Book: active young Christians are holding true to historical and orthodox beliefs about the Bible.
Please note...some of these articles require you to have a free membership to continue reading. We have suggested them because the articles consistently have relevant information for today's Church. The memberships are free and will usually result in you receiving emails from the group. However, you can unsubscribe at any time.
Watch the video of One Life Church member John sharing the book of James from memory and Pastor Jeff Machgan interviewing him about how he did it.
Loving our families should be the easiest of all. However, with life pushing us this way and that, taking every bit of our energy, and the constant insistence of cell phones and computer screens, how do we keep our family in the right place of our priorities. The tyranny of the urgent has to be put on tomorrow's "to-do" list so that the joy of a loving family can be cultivated and treasured. Just as "doing ministry" is not the same as developing our relationship with Christ, simply co-existing as a family does not make us one.
Here are some pointers and products that might help in the area of relationships and families and loving them better:
"Do You Have the Marriage You Want?" by Gary Chapman, Ph.D.
Most of us did not marry to find someone to help us around the house. We married out of a desire to know and be known, to love and to be loved, believing that together we could experience life more deeply than apart. In two words, we wanted an intimate relationship.
I am convinced that there are five essential components to an intimate relationship. In the living of life, these can never be segmented into five distinct boxes, but for the purpose of learning, it helps to view them separately.
Parents...The National Center for Biblical Parenting offers a free book on Biblical Parenting that offers practical help for "any child at any age with any problem." Download it for free here: http://www.biblicalparenting.org/change/CHANGEeBook.pdf
They also offer free parenting tips through email by signing up on their mailing list, and their web site has many other parenting materials. Find those here: http://www.biblicalparenting.org/default.asp
Job and Ministry Opportunities
Youth Leader Internship
First Baptist Church of Winters (FBCW) is seeking a Youth Leader Intern.
The job requires about 15 hours of work each week, offers a competitive salary along with a generous budget for Youth activities. The youth group consists of 10-20 students at the Wednesday, friday, and Sunday gatherings.
For more information, contact the church at 530-795-2821 or firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact SRBN.
Education internship with stipend, housing, and airfare at Lake Tahoe, California
August 9 through December 22, 2017
4 Preschool interns and 4 School age interns needed.
For more information, contact Debbie Wohler at 530-583-2925 or 530-448-9359 or email@example.com
Apply here: https://fs25.formsite.com/firstbaptisttahoe/form3/index.html
Children's Missions Day Explosion
February 18, 9 am to 3 pm
Cooper Avenue Baptist Church, Yuba City
$10 per person, lunch included
(one leader free with every six children per church)
register online at http://www.csbc.com/events/childrens-missions-day-yuba-city
VBS Clinic in Spanish
Clinicas para Escuela Bíblica de Vacaciones en Español
February 18, 9:30-1:30
In San Jose
register online at http://www.csbc.com/events/clinicas-para-escuela-bíblica-de-vacaciones-en-español
Movie: Is Genesis History?
February 23 in theaters
VBS Clinic North
February 25, 9 am to 2:30 pm
El Camino Baptist Church
register online at http://www.csbc.com/events/state-vacation-bible-school-clinic-north-english
Ministry Couples' Retreat
Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley
$235 per couple
register online at http://www.csbc.com/events/ministry-couple-retreat
Week of Prayer for North American Missions
March 30, 9 am-3 pm
El Camino Baptist Church, Sacramento
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Movie: Facing Darkness
A true story of faith: saving Dr. Brantly from ebola in Africa
March 30 in theaters
Disaster Relief Spring Training
March 31-April 1
Register online at http://www.csbc.com/events/dr-training-city-of-auburn
Movie: The Case for Christ
Beginning April 7 in theaters
El Camino Baptist Church
9 am to 1 pm (registration begins at 8:30 am)
Pastor and MInistry Leader Retreat
Jenness Park Christian Camp
$150 per person
register at http://www.csbc.com/events/pastor-ministry-leaders-retreat
Associational Missions Emphasis (AME)
Week of Prayer and Mission Emphasis