Welcome back Pastor... I say that to say this; I went through this last season of fear, uncertainty, and turmoil in our country just like you. I saw the violence, the hurt as the value of people was lost, and I see the change it has brought to us, all of us, in small ways, in large ways, many suffered loss, the loss of family, the loss of hope, and sadly, it seems so many in the church have lost their desire to be the church. The world has the church right where it wants it, disconnected, inconsistent, the internet became the solution for the pandemic, and it had it's place, I utilized it, and am thankful for it, but now, now the place is in your local church, in fellowship, lifting voices, lifting prayers together. I lost a part of me, just like many of you; it will never be the same, I will never be the same...I guess that just means that God can do even more with me, and He can do more with you. Our children's ministry, not back, our youth presence, no, but we have God's word, we have our faith, and we can come together. Will it ever be the same...I sure hope not, come and visit if you are able, send me a message, let's grow, spiritually first, spiritually always, if we do, God will make all else known. Sorry I've been away, thank you for being patient, May the Lord bless you, Pastor
Denominations, Baptist, Christian, Methodist, Catholic, and a few more besides; designed to distinguish a core of beliefs in how we approach God and his kingdom; what we hold true as the teaching and interpretation of the bible; valuable, important, powerful and unique one to another in small ways.
What troubles me in our society isn't that we have denominations but that the denominations are where many plant their faith, their obedience, their future...I have heard people say upon entering a church, "oh, sorry I'm in the wrong church," first I would say if you don't recognize the church it might be because you are seeking a new church or you have been invited to a different location by friends or you have relocated to a new town, but I urge you to give God a chance where you find yourself.
I have a great friend and mentor who Pastored a church in Louisville, sharing the gospel with great intensity to the black community and I have visited that church and when I am there it is the right church for me. I have attended services in the Catholic church and been moved to tears at the word of God and found that to be the right church at that moment, I have preached the gospel to those who hold fast to their Methodist doctrine, and God blessed me...and I believe He blessed them in spite of our secondary differences. It is God that makes the right church, not the title on the sign.
If where you find yourself on Sunday in a church that you're not sure is the right one based on color or denomination, before you check out, check with God. After all, He should be what you're looking for anyway. And if it's the wrong place, God will let you know, and you will know where not to be, but if it's the right place, you might be home. All are welcome in God's house at Elk Creek, you may say you come from a different church, or from no church at all; I say we all come from a condition of desire, seeking the One who can satisfy, Jesus.
I am the pastor of Elk Creek, I am a Christian preaching in a Baptist Church, God created it all, period. Jesus died for our sins, period. Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, period. Sin is sin and Jesus loves the sinner, not the sin. You can't live in one and claim the other, for you deceive yourself. Hell is real. I preach from the ESV bible, it may not be your version, but it is His! If God leads you to the door of our church give Him a chance, you might just be home, but if you're not I will help you find it.
Our society has enough conditions and rules for acceptance, the church that preaches and teaches the whole council of the bible should offer rest for those seeking God through Christ, and loving correction for those who think they can offer the Lord a compromise or just don't know how to find him, not condemnation for the traveler who walks through the "wrong door."
Three years seems like a long time for a lot of things; it is a long time to keep a pair of shoes, but, I'm pretty sure the shoes I wear to work have close to seven years of wear on them. They don't look like they did when they were new, they have some scars to prove their value. Since being called to Elk Creek by God in 2011 I have changed a little too I think. When I first followed God's instruction I was probably like a new pair of shoes to the folks in this beautiful little church.
I remember the nervousness I felt the first time I stood behind the pulpit and shared what God had allowed me to write, a collection of thoughts and my best insight on what I felt the Word of God was saying to me and to the church in that moment, the realization that I had been called to be responsible for the words I would say and the lives I would impact...but unlike my seven year old shoes the nervousness hasn't gone away and the weight of the responsibility that God has entrusted me with still amazes me.
I am learning to trust God more and more with each day I serve our family at Elk Creek, and I like to think that He trusts me a little more too. And there have been times, and may be times in my service that my words, my words, may not fall on favorable ears, and while I would not set out or plan or desire to offend anyone, the problem is that we are all human. Three years seems like a long time, but it took Moses 40 years to realize he didn't have it right, and 40 more figuring out how to get started.
But he got started with one goal, serve God, and his words weren't always well received, but he kept on speaking. Being a Pastor It isn't a popularity contest, at least not for me. Don't get me wrong I hope people like me, but I am called to serve God, I've got a few scars and I'm sure there are more on the way, but if introducing people to Jesus means I've got to take a hit or two, I'm good with that. In His Service.
I love the movie "Field of Dreams" because it shows how a vision that is only partially clear takes time to come into focus, how it requires sacrifice, faith, and going beyond what makes sense to everybody around you. Isn't that what God does in the lives of His church? Not the building but the people, He casts a vision, some that seem reachable and some that are so far outside of our comfort zone and so far beyond our ability that they seem more like a mirage than a vision.
In the movie, we see a farmer with a dream of creating a place for a group of baseball players that are stuck in a place where they will never realize their joy to the fullest, a place where they will yearn for something they know they need but don't have the ability or the resources to bring it to completion, and the farmer plows under his crop and builds a baseball field. And once it is completed they come, first only one, and then the one invites others, and pretty soon the field is crowded to capacity. And suddenly all those who were blind to the need of the field see it in all it's splendor and are changed forever.
The final scene is epic, but, I'll let those who may not have seen it experience that for yourselves.
And God has a vision of creating a place for everyone who is stuck in that place where they will obtain all the world has to offer and never realize what true joy is...He wants me to tell people that I know what it means to yearn for something deep in my soul even though I don't know what it is, a peace that I didn't have the resources to bring to completion, a purpose that I did not have the ability to bring to the table, and the good news...He's already built it.
He built it with sacrifice, the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross, He built it by doing what didn't make sense to anyone, He allowed His Son to die, and then be raised from the grave...His vision included me...and His vision includes you...I can build all the buildings I desire, but God build's the church, Jesus is the church, I am merely a part of His church...but what I can do is be the groundskeeper for the field. No turnstile, no ticket required, sit anywhere you like, there's not a bad seat in the house...come see Jesus in all His splendor...you'll never be the same.
The more I watch, and the more I listen to preachers of the gospel its no wonder that more and more people are turning away from the Bible, and that hurts my heart. I pray as a pastor that every word I speak concerning the Lord is accurate and biblically based with as much knowledge of the truth as I am capable of presenting. But what I am discovering is that the age of a Christian might have very little to do with determining their Spiritual maturity, because their maturity is based on what they have learned in their personal walk with Christ, not what they have heard preached from a pulpit. Because if all they hear are the deep theological presentations of God's word and they go away confused or feeling unable to understand the simple, real world message of what was said, then why wouldn't they turn their ear to something that sounds simpler? Having said that, please, understand that I will never "dumb down" the scriptures of God's Holy Word. But my goal has always been to have people leave with an understanding of what the scripture means to me today, and to encourage the listener to read it, to study it, to ask questions...but sometimes even that becomes heavy for some. Today, and everyday that is before me God has shared an insight that sounds simple but it has had a profound impact on my own way of thinking as I prepare to preach the good news and I hope that every preacher or teacher who reads this can agree...Let's unveil the Christ, not just the promises or the punishments or the expectations or the rewards, Let's unveil the Christ, because until they KNOW Jesus in your heart, the rest is just great reading.
Sometimes we get so caught up in doing church that we forget to let Jesus take the lead in our worship; I cannot speak for any other than the Baptist Church's I have been in but every week there is an order of service, and I think that's a good thing, there should be a degree of order in the church and it is helpful to the congregation and especially to visitors to be able to know what to expect during their time in your worship service.
But it is our idea of how to make the worship flow, it is based on tradition and experience, wrapped in prayer and offered in love, but every once in a while something happens-at least it seems to happen to me-and the order of service becomes for a moment a distant dream, and I believe that in those moments God is seeking our trust in His vision for His people.
Traditionally I have always put baptism's at the beginning of the service, all eyes on those standing up and standing out for the Lord, but when families are traveling long distances to be a part of this special occasion as they were today then my planning has to take a back seat to His glory. Baptism isn't about me, or the church congregation, it's about the living testimony shared with those who are witness to it, and first and foremost to God.
So today, when the world tried to darken the moment by having the family detained by traffic, we proceeded through our service until they arrived, and I was blessed to hear from the back room others stepping in to lead worship and prayer in my place in service to the Lord. Soon the family arrived and we proceeded to glorify the Father, not according to our order of service, but according to the instruction of God. His order of service couldn't have been better.
As a church our planning and preparation for the worship hour sometimes just won't work, and we should pray that God shuffles it up once in a while, I think it makes Him smile to see us react to his intervention, if nothing else it reminds me that He is alive and active in His church that I am blessed to serve in.
God in his power and majesty created the mountains and the seas; not with tools and effort but by the very spoken word he created them. And while they seem so overwhelming in their nature man has been drawn to climb them, to seek that feeling of achievement that only comes through perseverance and effort...but you know, if God had made the mountain smooth you couldn't climb it.
The mountain by its creation has various places for one to get a firm grip, to pull their self up a little at a time, but sometimes we may climb for a long time only to realize that the path we have chosen won't get us to the summit and then we must go back down and hope to find a more forgiving route, one that will allow us to reach the top. God sometimes leads us to mountains in our personal life, and like his mountains the ones we face offer an opportunity to get a fresh grip, a firm hold if we will just trust the maker of the mountain.
But it isn't the God made mountain of stone, or the ice capped peak that the creator puts before us that cause us the most difficulty, and if you've faced the "life mountains" that God allows in your life you know that even they, with faith and trust in the Lord can be ascended...but the mountains that stop us in our tracks, the ones that are most difficult are the "man made" mountains, they ones built on pride, anger, jealousy, envy, judgment and every other ingredient we can add in.
These are the mountains that hurt the deepest and the longest, the ones that challenge you to give up climbing; don't let a mountain created by any man become the "hill" that keeps you from the Lord. If you need help on the climb, the Lord is listening, and I am here to pray for you and with you.
2013 was a busy year at Elk Creek, I saw Deacons who had served for years gracefully step down and others step up to the call of the Lord to become leaders and ministers to the church body. I saw Trustees exercise true stewardship, and the church became even more beautiful, and continues to see little changes. I witnessed healing of hearts and a renewed interest in many areas, and I realized that we as a church have more opportunities and more challenges ahead of us. But reflection is just that, reflection, and it speaks of the past. As I look to the Lord for how He would have me lead his church in 2014 I am comforted that I am surrounded by a wife and two daughters that support me and work along side me in ministry, and a church that loves us...really loves us, and together we as the church @ Elk Creek can face anything, and I hope that if you are looking for a church to call home, a place where you can be a part of a family that is pursuing the Lord, then you will come and visit with us.
I have heard countless times in recent years that the church's in America need revival; that we need to get God back in our schools, back in our government, back in our homes...but I struggle with the attitudes and the actions of the "Christians" I see and hear in the workplace, on the social networks, and in our churches. Revival is not just a catch phrase, it isn't like jump starting a dead battery, it has to be more; it is more. Our church just completed 5 revival services and while I was personally revived, reenergized, and refreshed in my heart it was also an eye opening experience concerning the "church." The "church" as I understand it according to the scripture is made up of those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, so with that in mind revival must be a personal thing; while it certainly affects the entire body of a church it doesn't flow from the church to the believer, it flows from the Holy Spirit to each believer to the church, and we become stewards of a great responsibility, to live out our faith. So if revival is for the church and we as believers are the church then revival is for us! And if we have any hope of getting God back into our homes, our workplace, our school, our government then we had better be very concerned about getting God back into our individual hearts! Posting Bible scripture on your website isn't going to get it done, clicking "like" on a picture of Jesus on a social media website is an insult, and spending time in church dressed up and playing the part is insulting to the one who allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for our sins! If revival is for the church...and we are the church...then why are there empty seats in every church during every revival? Maybe it is because some believers feel they don't need revival...but if revival is designed and desired to refresh us for Jesus, to reenergize our zeal for Jesus...then which believer wouldn't need or desire that? If you have Jesus in your heart, but life has beat you down you are not without hope and you are not beyond His reach. Maybe you need revival, maybe you need prayer, maybe you just need an ear. He is listening, and so will I. May the LORD richly bless your Spirit, Pastor.
I love how God keeps on... keeps on with what you say...He just keeps on. Guiding, correcting, consoling, comforting, loving, listening, teaching, and holding on. I love having conversations about Him, because it never fails that when I talk about Him my mouth is filled with new and heart searchingly honest things to say. I was talking to a friend about grace and mercy and how so many Christians see these as two of God's attributes that He displays as needed, but I shared with my friend that grace and mercy are not attributes of God, God IS grace and mercy. Sound obvious? I want you to take that thought and really spend some time with it away from everything else...and let it soak way down deep...God cannot be graceless or merciless because He in Himself is both. He doesn't bestow grace based on our actions or our prayers or our work, He is gracious regardless! He doesn't grant mercy based on our merit or our demand or because it is best for us...He is merciful in spite of us! How can I not love Him?