Southern Baptists, Lottie Moon, and Christmas

For Southern Baptists, Christmas season and missions are inextricably linked by the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. In short, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is the major funding source for our overseas missions effort as Southern Baptists.

Lottie Moon, the missionary to China of the 1880s summed up best our reason for giving to missions at Christmas:

“Is not the festive season when families and friends exchange gifts in memory of The Gift laid on the altar of the world for the redemption of the human race, the most appropriate time to consecrate a portion from abounding riches and scant poverty to send forth the good tidings of great joy into all the earth?”

As we enter the month of December, we will join with other Southern Baptists in a season of giving specific for international missions. Last Sunday night, our church heard from one of our Southern Baptist missionaries.

I jotted down these words from our speaker:

“I do not expect you to go with me, but God expects me to go and I will be disobedient if I do not go.”

But, if God expects him to go and not us, should not we assume that God expects us to help him go? Please join me in giving to this year’s offering.

As you think about giving, let me suggest to you some specific ideas about giving this year.

  • $25-If you are a new Christian or a new Southern Baptist who has never heard of Lottie Moon, this may be a place to start. I always say “start where you are.” Start with this initial gift representing the days between now and Christmas day.
  • $159-The average amount to support a missionary per day.
  • $365-Some may consider this gift representing $1 a day for the entire year.
  • $1,119-The average amount to support a missionary per week.
  • $4,850-The average amount to support a missionary per month.
  • $58,200-The average amount to support a missionary per year. (Hey, that’s a lot, but it may be what someone who reads this blog needed to hear.)
  • Empty out that change jar and give it to the Lottie Moon offering.
  • Give an amount equal to the average amount that you will spend on a Christmas gift.
  • Give an amount that is greater than any amount you have previously given to the Lottie Moon Offering.

The Southern Baptist Goal is $155 Million. Give in such a way that will help us to reach our goal.

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What’s Happening this Week at FBC?

On Thursday, December 1, we look forward to having Dr. Rick Brewer with us for our JOY Club Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dr. Brewer is the president of Louisiana College and an accomplished musician. Bring a friend!

What if every day was Christmas? Always Christmas! That’s the theme we want to take you through this Christmas season. Lord willing, I want to share with you these four ideas related to Christmas: Always Prepare, Always Proclaim, Always Rejoice, and Always Glorify. This Sunday I will be preaching on the subject “Always Prepare.”

Read Luke 2:25-38—the story of Simeon and Anna and be ready to talk about being prepared for the second coming of Christ just as they were prepared for the first coming of Christ.

Join us Sunday night for Our Children’s Christmas Musical called, All About that Baby—Please note that this service will be held in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00 p.m.

Please be praying this week for the 5 scheduled performances of I’ll Be Home for Christmas which begin on Wednesday, December 7. Remember that the Wednesday through Friday performances are at 7:00 p.m. The Saturday and Sunday performances will be at 3:00 p.m.

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What’s Happening this Month at FBC?

Many of you who read this blog often know that usually in middle of the week I write about what is happening this week at our church, First Baptist Church, Lafayette. Today, I want to expand that and put in one place all that is happening in the month of December. Indeed, as we look toward Christmas, December is going to be a great month at FBC, Lafayette.

Sunday Mornings—I will be preaching on the theme of “Always Christmas!” We will look at these four themes: always prepare, always proclaim, always rejoice, and always glorify. Please note that on Christmas Sunday, December 25, we will only meet for one service at 10:00 a.m. There will not be Sunday School or an Evening Worship on this day. Also note, that because Christmas falls on Sunday this year, we will not be having a Christmas Eve service as we sometimes have had.

Sunday Evenings—We have special events planned for each of the next three Sunday evenings.

December 4—Our Children’s Christmas Musical called, All About that Baby—Please note that this service will be held in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00 p.m.

December 11—This Sunday night is the final performance of the 5 schedule performances of I’ll Be Home for Christmas which begins on Wednesday, December 7. Remember that the Wednesday through Friday performances are at 7:00 p.m. The Saturday performances will be at 3:00 p.m.

December 18—Celebrate Christmas Concert with Gordon Mote and the Foto Sisters—Gordon Mote has played on albums for country and gospel legends, as well as American Idol winners. He traveled over six years with the Gaither Homecoming Tour and the Gaither Vocal Band. He brings humor, charm, and a passionate heart for God to the stage in this Christmas concert. The Foto Sisters are from Baton Rouge. The Foto Sisters have been performing classical and sacred music for over 13 years. While the concert is entertaining, you’ll also be led to worship the Lord through their music.

December is going to be great! I hope to see often as we celebrate Christmas!

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A Glorious Day at FBC Yesterday

“Yesterday was so great!” That seems to be the mood in our offices today. Almost every conversation has indicated this. Lest anyone think I am bragging, I want to be clear that I had nothing to do with yesterday being a great day.

Yesterday morning, we observed the Lord’s Supper. In planning our worship, it seemed to be the perfect bridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “In remembrance of Him” ought to be at the heart of our Thanksgiving. “In remembrance of Him” ought to be at the heart of our Christmas celebration.

I shared four quick points yesterday as we prepared to share in the elements of the Lord’s Supper. I preached that the Lord’s Supper is a glorious occasion to …

· Adore our Savior
· Affirm our beliefs
· Assess our relationship to Jesus
· Announce His death, burial, resurrection, and return.

Then, last night we had lots of carols and Scripture reading and heard an awesome challenge from International Mission Board personnel (name being withheld intentionally because of the nature of his work and that pesky thing called Google) to kick-off our season of giving to Lottie Moon.

We were blessed with great attendance, a few decisions to trust Christ, and all-in-all, a glorious day.

If you live in the Lafayette area, join us one Sunday during this Christmas season!

(To watch or listen to yesterday’s message “The Lord’s Supper: A Glorious Occasion” go to fbclaf.org/video)

Thanksgiving 2016

We truly have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we? Every day, not once a year, we should pause and give God thanks for the way He blesses us. Regrettably, our nature is such that we fail to give God proper thanksgiving.

We do need a day like Thanksgiving Day to “think” about all the reasons that we have to “thank” God.

I am thankful for my wife and sons. In this year, we have seen our oldest graduate from high school and begin college and our youngest begin kindergarten. Indeed, I am blessed. I am thankful that they allow me to be just “Steve” and “Dad.” Once again, at this time of year, we find ourselves healthy and in need of nothing. How rich we are!

I am thankful to the Lord for sparing my mother through multiple strokes, a heart attack, and triple by-pass surgery. Though she spent 75 days of 2016 in the hospital, she is home and doing well. I am thankful.

I am thankful for God’s blessing on our community and surrounding area. Though many are still recovering from the historic floods, I am thankful for the way we have seen our community come together and help one another rebuild. I only pray that we have not been like the nine lepers who wailed so loudly for God’s healing, but did not return to give Him thanks.

I am thankful for the election of President-Elect Donald Trump and Vice-President Elect Mike Pence. I pray that their election signals a time that we “might lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:2)

I am thankful for God’s blessing on our church. I consider myself to be so blessed to pastor such a wonderful group of people. The support that you continue to show energizes me from week to week.

Take some time to count your blessings. I’m learning that counting my blessings is the secret to contentment.

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What’s Happening this Week at FBC?

Be reminded that we are not having our mid-week services this week due to Thanksgiving. However, we look forward to seeing you Sunday, and we have a lot planned.

Sunday morning, the focus of our worship is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Please begin to prepare your heart now for your participation. We think it will be a meaningful way to continue to contemplate Thanksgiving and look forward to Christmas.

Sunday evening’s worship service will be a very exciting service. We have planned a service that will be a beginning of the Christmas season for us. We will sing Christmas carols and have a lighting of candles. We will also kick off our annual emphasis on giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Our long-time missions partner through the International Mission Board, Pat Melancon, will join us to share with us about the importance of our continued giving to the Lottie Moon Christian Offering for International Missions.

Happy Thanksgiving and I will see you Sunday!

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My Fun Look at Thanksgiving

Yesterday on this blog I mentioned that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I thought I might give you a fun glimpse at why that is true. I hope none of you think in any way that this list takes away from the spiritual meaning of Thanksgiving. But, beyond the spiritual implications of Thanksgiving, let me offer this fun list.

1. Football—Ok, so those who know me well knew this was going to be on the list somewhere, so let me get it out of the way now.

2. Food—I could take or leave the turkey, but I love the side dishes, especially the cornbread dressing.

3. Great Childhood Memories—I have great memories of throwing the football in my great grandmother’s front yard, even the year that I caught my dad’s elbow instead of the football. Yes, we missed lunch and went to the ER instead.

4. Great Childhood Memories II—I grew up with the tradition of fishing on the Friday following Thanksgiving with my dad and granddad. The ham sandwich wrapped in that wax paper prepared by my MamMaw that was our lunch on the lake was the best!

5. Engagement—I asked Linett to marry me on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving in 1991. She said “Yes!”

6. Newborn—Josh was born on November 18, 1997, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving came on the next week. That quiet, simple Thanksgiving was the best!

7. Travelling—We are not travelling this year, but often have travelled. Getting away has always been fun for us in the midst of our busy lives.

8. Basketball—For the last four years, I have enjoyed watching Josh play in a High School basketball tournament. Now that he has graduated, I am missing that this year, but I will forever cherish that time of watching him play high school athletics.

9. Kick-off of Christmas Season—By the end of the week, Linett will be playing Christmas music in the car and house. We might even break out the decorations.

10. Simplicity—I love Thanksgiving for its simplicity most of all.

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Starting Thanksgiving Week with a Few Thoughts from Hebrews

I was reading this morning on Jim Denison’s Daily Report (Denisonforum.org) that Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday of only 2% of Americans. You can put me in that 2%. I have always loved Thanksgiving for a multitude of reasons. I could probably even go so far as to say it is my favorite week of the whole year. I want to share some thoughts with you this week about Thanksgiving.

At the end of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:25-29), we get this picture of the two separate worlds that collide. One is the kingdom of this world; the other is the kingdom of God. These two separate kingdoms are on an ultimate cosmic collision course.

Until that climactic conclusion, we will continue to get reminders of a shaken world, but we are recipients of a kingdom that can never be shaken.

What are we to do? We are to “Give thanks and worship.” Does this sound too simple or too impossible?

The phrase “let us hold on to grace” in Hebrews 12:28 literally is “let us have grace.” Everyone who seeks to comment on this phrase indicates that this is an idiom for the giving of thanks. A lot of times we give thanks only through faith.

Here are three promises to help you give thanks even when shaken.

· God’s Presence—Hebrews 13:5—“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

· God’s Power—Hebrews 13:6—“I will help you.”

· God’s Permanence—Hebrews 13:8—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

Have a Great Thanksgiving Week! I will.

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What’s Happening at FBC This Week?

Our focus for worship this Sunday morning is on the family. We will take some time in our morning worship to have a special time of parent-child dedication. Be praying for and with these thankful families as they dedicate themselves to the LORD. We are also completing our series on the Book of Colossians. By God’s providence, we have before us Sunday a great passage on relationships including family relationships. Read Colossians 3:18-4:6 in preparation for Sunday.

Then, Sunday night is our Annual Church Conference. We will seek to approve the Ministry Action Plan (Budget) for 2017 and approve committees for 2017.

Be praying for YEC at the Cajun Dome! YEC stands for Youth Evangelism Conference. This is the largest event of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Organizers expect 7,000 students from across the state to gather Sunday and Monday. We are blessed to have this event in our city. Be praying for an extraordinary move of God.

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We Certainly Owe our Veterans Respect and Honor

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:7)

Romans 13:7 has certainly been at the forefront of our minds this week. Here is likely the clearest word in the Bible on the relationship between the Christian and government. While Paul likely had the governing authorities in mind when he instructed to honor those we owe honor, certainly our Veterans are extensions of the implications of this text. I think it is fitting that we voted this week. We ought never to cast a vote without thinking about and thanking veterans.

So, what are you going to be doing this Veteran’s Day? Let me offer four ideas of how to spend this Veteran’s Day.

1. Thank God for calling men and women to military service and instilling in them the courage to protect our country at their own peril. The thanksgiving prayers of the Bible come to mind. For example, as recorded in Philippians 1:3, Paul prayed, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

2. Thank a veteran. Buy a meal, make a phone call, or reach out in some personal way to a veteran in your community.

3. Teach the Children—Make an intentional effort to talk to a child or teenager about the sacrifices of veterans.

4. Talk to God about our country. Pray today that we might be the kind of nation worthy of the sacrifices of our veterans.

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