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September 2017

Hate 2 Wait

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

If there is only one thing that unites us all as people, it is that we hate to wait. There is not a one of us who, given the choice, would opt for waiting in a long line, at a stoplight, or in the doctor’s office. “Nah, I think I’ll just hang out here and watch the world go by,” was said by no one, ever.
 
But, that’s precisely what God calls us to do, and with great frequency. As His children, who are striving to grow in our faith, and who yield ourselves to His will and His timing, we are often told to be patient, and to wait for God. We extol the virtue of being, “still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) But, like most things in our spiritual walk, waiting is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful task.
 
This month, we are going to be launching into a new message series entitled, “Hate 2 Wait.” I hope you’ll join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 as we take up this topic – one that is so personal for each of us. How do we reconcile our professed faith in God, in the perfection of His plan and timing, and still cry for Him to move – Now! How can we grow through our seasons of waiting, tarrying to hear God’s voice and see Him move, when all we want is what we want – Now!
 
Listen, family – there is never a time in our lives when our plans ex-ceed God’s plan for us. He created us in His image, and draws us to Himself, so that, through our obedience and dependence, He can
make all the arrangements for His very best in our lives. But, while He is working everything out, we have to be willing to hold tight, even when the thing we think we have always wanted is right in front of us. If the Father says, “No, wait for Me,” then that is the answer.
 
David knew a lot about waiting. From time to time, we’ll look at seasons of his life when he could have taken another road, but elected to let God continue the process of building him and preparing him for the great things that would come his way. In that way, David is exactly like us – sometimes, we are called to pause, or even postpone, our best, while we wait for God’s best. I promise, it might not feel like it at the time, but you will never go wrong with this plan!
 
See you on Sundays!
 
In His Love,
Bro. Heath
 


August 2017

“’Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’ ” (Jeremiah 18:6)

 

God knows how to bring revival to our friends, our community, our families, our church, and our world. He looks for those who will allow Him to shape them into the instruments He requires to do his work. One mark of revival, when God comes to His people in power, is that God’s people are

compelled

to offer their lives for His service – they give themselves to God completely. You see, clay has no plans of its own, no aspirations for service. Nor does it have any reluctance to perform the task it is given. It is just clay: moldable, pliable, totally submissive to the will of its master.

 

Many churches lack people who are willing to get involved in carrying out God’s redemptive work. We are more interested in conducting our own interest and gift inventories and telling God what we think we can or can’t do for Him, or what we want or don’t want to do. But, this is not a characteristic of clay. God is not limited to working with our strengths, or around our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9-10). He looks for someone who will submit to being broken and remade into a holy vessel. He finds those who will allow Him to remove their impurities.

 

One of the personal lessons I learned this summer is that the mission fields are crying out for Christians to go and share the Gospel with those who’ve never heard it. I never thought it was me – it was something for someone else to do. But, then I realized that obedience is a willingness to be what God wants you to be, and go where He wants you to go – no questions asked. That’s what being a disciple means. What we need is not more pleas for volunteers, but an outpouring of the power of God. When God comes among His people in power, there is never a shortage of volunteers or resources for His work!

 

When Christians today are asked what aspects of the Christian life are most important to them, missions is not usually ranked as a priority. This is because we have lost track of why God called us in the first place. We were not saved from our sin simply so that we would qualify for heaven. God delivered us so we would have a relationship with Him through which He could carry out His mission to redeem a lost world. It is not a noble task, being clay. There is nothing noteworthy, or glamorous, or worthy of boasting – except it is exactly what God is looking for.

 

Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness and reorient us toward the

mission

of God. There is no need to pray that God would come in power – that is the only way He ever comes! We need hearts that are so willing, so responsive to Him that he will choose to demonstrate His power through us. Is your heart so filled with love for God that you are watching for the first opportunity to say with Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!”?

 

In His love,

Bro. Heath

 

(Excerpts taken from Experiencing God Day-By-Bay, by Henry and Richard Blackaby (1997).)

 

 

 


July 2017

 

Draw Near to God

James 4:8

Every Sunday of our study in becoming irresistible, becoming the people, and the church, God loves to bless, we have first looked at what it is going to take to get – and keep – us on that road. James tells us,
 

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you . . . 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

(James 4:8, 10) Let’s look at the first part of that passage. If we are going to become the people that God knows we have the potential to be, then we have to begin at the beginning – becoming close to God, and staying there as He guides and teaches us. It’s not a place we can get to on our own – and it’s not a place we can be, if we don’t camp out in the shadow of God’s presence.
 

There may be times in our journey, however, when God seems far away. You may feel as if your prayers go unheard. James said there is a simple reason for this, and a solution. If you are far from God, it is because sin as separated you from Him.

One of the most awesome truths about God is that He is unchanging. His character stays absolutely holy. His faithfulness remains constant. The distance comes from us – it is we who change. We allow sin into our lives. We choose our own direction. We spend less and less time with Him in Bible study and prayer. Then, one day, we realize that we have – ever so gradually – grown distant from God. And, it’s not His fault; it’s ours. The solution, according to James, is straightforward: we are to draw near to God. As we realize our need to be closer to the Father and we begin to return to Him, He meets us even as the father hurried to welcome his prodigal son home (Luke 15:20).
 

Drawing near to God requires us to take two actions. First we must cleanse your hands (Isaiah 1:15). Before we can enjoy the blessings God’s intimacy with us has to offer, we have to clean up. We must cleanse our way of living. If you have been actively engaged in sin, you must reject it – every bit of it. If you have done anything to offend or hurt someone, you must make it right. Second, you are to purify your heart (Psalm 51:10). You have to make certain your attitudes, thoughts, and motives are right in God’s eyes and are in harmony with God’s word. Jesus warned that you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). It is impossible to love anything else as much as you love God and still please Him.

If God seems distant, do what is necessary to cleanse your hands, purify your heart, and draw near to Him. Then you will begin to grow more and more irresistible to heaven!

In His Love,

Bro Heath

 

 

 
 


May 2017

 

The Apostle’s Creed

A couple of weeks ago, we started a new study on Sunday nights. It’s called “The Apostle’s Creed,” and it takes an in-depth look at the theology, development and use of one of the earliest documents in the history of the Christian Church. One review states, “Keeping Christians on the same page, before the invention of the page!”

Because of last week’s weather, we’re only one week into this great study, and I’d like to invite you to join me, every Sunday night at 5:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. To give you a little background, here is a welcome from Matt Chandler, the study’s author:

“It’s easy for our culture of individuality and innovation to shape the way we think about the church. So what should we believe? Should Christians try to be more accepting of a postmodern worldview? With so many questions, opinions, and interpretations among people today, even within the church, what should we all agree on as essential to Christian faith?

Finding its genesis in the apostles’ teachings, the Apostles’ Creed contains essential Christian doctrines and beliefs that summarize the gospel and make up the foundation of our faith. The scriptural truths contained in the creed help us operate from good theology, with the knowledge that our faith is rooted in truth and a rich history that spans past, present, and future. The lines of the creed aren’t mere words. They convey the essence of what we confess and believe as the body of Christ.
 

The creed helps us develop better symmetry as Christians, giving us a more robust understanding of biblical teaching. As Christians, it’s easy to stick with what we already know. Either we don’t grow and remain immature with a minimal, two-dimensional faith, or even if we’re growing, we become out of balance instead of developing a holistic, well-rounded faith.

It also helps us with clarity, making clear who God is. Clarity is a more specific focus on what we believe about God and the world. By and large, American evangelicals seem to be terribly confused about who God is, what He’s up to, what He’s like, and what He’s about. The Christian life isn’t about our preferences or opinions or the latest cultural trends; it’s about God. What you believe about God is the most important thing in your life; it shapes all your attitudes and actions.

The Apostles’ Creed informs our community, whom we belong to, and whom we’re with. As Christians who believe the doctrines summarized in the Apostles’ Creed, we’re part of a people who have been around for thousands of years. We’re part of a people who go back to the beginning of humankind, when God called first people to Himself. Throughout history God’s people, those He has chosen and called to Himself, have thrived and worshiped the one true God. We’re part of that tradition. We’ve been woven into something much bigger than us. The fabric created by God makes us stronger than any of us can ever be on our own. It’s diverse, it’s beautiful, and it’s global.

Lastly, the creed informs the way we counsel ourselves and others. Counsel is essentially the point of application. How do symmetry, clarity, and community lead to a change in your perspective? How do you think and act differently? When you grow in your understanding of the person of God, the work of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, you’ll think differently. The result should be an ever deepening maturity and a closer walk of obedience with our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Hope to see you there!

Bro. Heath

 

 

 

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April 2017

Nothing, and Everything

 

Easter is almost here.  This season, more than any, we are reminded of the many contrasts of the Christian life.  Through the events of Jesus’ last week on earth, we follow Him from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem – hearing the adulation of the crowds – to His agonizing walk up the Via Dolorossa, soaked in His own sweat and blood, toward Calvary.  We hear, just as clearly, the jeering and mockery of the same crowd which, just a few days earlier, wanted to declare Him king.

 

We experience the loneliness of the cross, as Jesus, dying for me, cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  And, very soon thereafter, we hear Jesus declare victory, stating, “It is finished!”  We share with the disciples the loss and confusion of His death and burial, and we also share with them the incredible, unbelievable confidence of the empty tomb.  As Christians, we are emboldened by the words, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?  He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.” (Luke 24:5; Matthew 28:6)

 

We experience so many conflicting emotions:  defeat, and victory, sadness and joy, loss and gain, emptiness and abundance.  But, one I’d like us to focus on, for just a minute, is

nothing, and everything.  You see, it cost us nothing to become a Christian, and to receive eternal life.  The price was paid in full before we ever even thought about the consequences of our sin.  The conquering of Satan, the payment of a blood sacrifice, the agony of the cross, the bearing of the weight of the sins of the world.  Add to that the experience of God’s rejection and condemnation in our place, the facing down of hell itself – all of these things Christ accomplished on our behalf – without any help at all from us. 

 

And the victory – along with all of the benefits of His mighty work are ours, through faith – they’re free to everyone who would believe in Him and claim them for their own.

 

But, while it cost us nothing to become a Christian, it will cost us everything to be a Christian.  Jesus commands and demands nothing less from us than that we place Him on the throne of our lives.  He requires us to set aside our personal agendas, and replace them with His.  It is not His desire, but his expectation, that we view everything we have as His, and that we submit it all – everything – to His will.

  

In that darkened Upper Room, through the flickering of candlelight, only a few hours before His crucifixion, Jesus challenged the disciples, saying, “If you love Me, keep My commands.” (John 14:15)  And, that challenge is ours, as well.

 

Learning Christ’s will, and then choosing to give Him your obedience is a profound act of worship.  Obedience to God is confirmation, to ourselves and others who may be watching, that our faith-statements are real.  It is also the surest path to personal satisfaction and happiness.

 

So, this Easter, embrace the contradictions that come from living a life of Christ-honoring service.  Know that, as Max Lucado wrote, He chose the nails – for me, and because of me.  And, through Him, I am forever free.  He saves!  

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 

 

 

  

                                                                                               

 



March 2017

The Love of Easter

1 John 4:7-11

 

 

 

 
March 1st begins the observation of the season of Lent – a time where Christians prepare themselves for the bloody sacrifice of Good Friday, and the victory of Easter Sunday, by spending time remembering.  We remember who God is – that, in His sovereignty, He prepared a way for his wandering, rebellious, sinful children to return to Him, once and for all, through faith in His Son, and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We also remember who Jesus is – the Son of God, who voluntarily set aside his heavenly crown to be born of a virgin, to live, and to die, in fulfillment of promise and prophecy, to give us the hope of eternal salvation to all who would believe.  We remember, too, ourselves, and the sin of humanity that made the cross necessary.  It was for us that Jesus bled and died, and it was for us that His resurrection promised time without end with His, and our, heavenly father.

 

We should remember, too, the words of John:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11, NASB)
 

Easter is all about love:  a Father’s love, a Son’s love, and the love of repentant children, who present themselves as a holy and living sacrifice – a gift of love, through faith, that is the only acceptable response we can have for the indescribable gift that was given to us in salvation.  

 

So, as we prepare ourselves for Easter over the next forty or so days, let’s remember the love that made a plan, and the love that took a cross, and the love that gave and empty tomb.  And, let’s remember that it was all for us, and respond with the gratitude and humility that is demanded of such an awesome gift.  And, let our belief, our faith, impact our behavior.  Let’s share some of that love with others; because, “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 

 



February 2017

As a student of politics for most of my life, I have never seen the rancor and divisiveness that
has settled in over our country since the election, and inauguration, of Donald Trump as the 45th
President of the United States. Given that, I have often wondered and prayed about what our
response as Christians needs to be to the turmoil that seems to envelop us at every turn. We
argue, we fight, we protest, we unfriend long-time friends on social media – it seems that we
have lost sight of what is most important in our lives: our relationship with Jesus Christ, and
how that relationship directly impacts our relationships with others. We are hateful, because
we have hate, or fear, in our hearts; and that is not of Christ.
 
Below is an excerpt from an op-ed piece written by fellow Coast native Russell Moore, who
serves as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist
Convention. He addresses the issue of what we as Christians need to be doing right now better
than I ever could. I don’t always agree with Dr. Moore, but I certainly do on this issue. And,
even though I rarely found myself in agreement with President Obama on any issue, I never
gave up praying for him, and those around him, as he governed our nation.
 
Please prayerfully listen to Dr. Moore’s words:
With the inauguration of a new president of the United States, now is a time to pray for
President Trump and to remember our obligation as Christians to pray for all those who are in
civil authority. The Apostle Paul charges us to offer prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for
“all people,” and includes in that list “kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:2). This
very act of praying is itself a counter-cultural act.
 
We can pray in a way that wants absolute success for officials we like, and total defeat for those
we oppose. That’s not the way Christians pray.
 
Consistently, no matter who is in office, we are to pray for success. That doesn’t mean we pray
for all of any leader’s ideas to be realized. But it means that we pray that he or she would
succeed, would carry out an agenda that leads to the flourishing of the rest of society and,
particularly, so that the church may “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every
way.”
 
In contemporary American society, we’re supposed to want those we like to leave office as
heroes and those we don’t to bumble and fail. That should never be our attitude. As Donald
Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States, we should pray that his
presidency is a great and good one. That prayer applies to all, whether someone voted for the
current president or not.
 
Those who like the new president should pray that he governs so successfully that their hopes
are realized. Those who don’t like the new president should pray that, at the end of his term if
not before, they are surprised that they were wrong. This means we should pray for many
things, specifically. We should pray for physical safety. Leading a nation is a perilous thing, as
we have seen throughout our country’s history. We should pray also for wisdom and
discernment.
 
A president — or any elected official — will have many expert advisers giving counsel, and many
of these experts will see things differently. We should pray that Trump would at every turn have
the foresight to differentiate between all the competing options in a way that benefits the
country and the rest of the world.
 
We should also pray that the president is able to bring about peace. This means we pray that he
would lead the world toward peaceful resolutions of conduct.
 
We also should pray that God uses him, through the bully pulpit of the presidency, to model
what it means for an often-divided nation to live in peace and civility with one another, even
when we disagree. A president cannot do that alone, but we should pray that, as in other times
in our history, the president is able to make a start.
 
The biblical command to render honor also means we cannot in good conscience undermine the
legitimacy of our new president. Evangelical believers can and often do publicly disagree with
our elected officials over important issues, and holding those in power accountable is part of our
duty. But that accountability does not entail proclamations of “Not my president.” Such
statements were wrong and irresponsible when some said them during the last administration,
and they are still wrong and irresponsible now applied to the new administration.
 
We are told to pray this way not because the country is ultimately so important.
 
As a matter of fact, we are to pray that way because the country is not of ultimate importance.
We pray for wise, successful civil leadership because we know what matters more: “For there is
one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave
himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
We pray for flourishing in the civil arena because that’s good for everyone, and part of our
obligation to love our neighbors. We also do so because we pray for the freedom for the church
to announce, without hindrance (Acts 28:30-31), a message that outlasts the White House.
 
In His Love,
Bro. Heath

 



January 2017

Destination: Antioch!

 

To   me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:8-12)

On Sunday, Emmanuel Baptist Church will begin a message series on making the church what God intended.  To do this, we will look at what is probably the best example – the church at Antioch.  This was the first Gentile congregation founded by the early church, and it’s faithfulness and obedience caused the Gospel to be spread to the non-Jewish world.  It was the place in which the “mystery” of God’s plan for the spread of His church to the non-Jewish population would have its genesis.  It was the “around the world” from which the Acts 1:8 church would spread.

The church is God’s ultimate purpose for the universe.  It is why we exist – for the praise of God and the spread of the Gospel throughout the world, until the whole world hears.  That is our legacy, and our hope for the future.

As we look at what made this church, the church at Antioch, literally pulsate with the Holy Spirit, my prayer is that we will be challenged to take up their mantle.  To be the church that we have been created to be, we must be transformational, spiritually empowered, Gospel-advancing, committed to the truth, and generous.  As we learn to be all of these things – individually, and corporately – we will see how this early church laid the foundation for us and our Kingdom ministry.  They are a part of us, and, if we are to succeed, we must be everything they were, and so much more.  Advancement of the cause of Christ deserves no less than our very best.  This is what we will study over the coming weeks.
 
So, join us on New Year’s Day at 10:00 a.m., and every Sunday after that at our new time, 10:30 a.m.,
 as we search for the characteristics that will lead us to take the Gospel to the ends of the world.  It’s Destination:  Antioch!

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 

 



December 2016

A Priceless Act of Revival

 

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

                           (Isaiah 9:1-7, NASB)

 

Last month, our church participated in twenty-one days of fasting and prayer. The fasting was to help focus our minds and thoughts on what God has in store for Emmanuel and our ministries – to help us love, serve and reach more energetically and effectively. And, the prayer – that’s the key to seeing our Kingdom efforts succeed. In order to give our very best to God, we have to totally immerse everything we do in prayer. We have to pray that God will reveal His will to us, and guide us toward His plan for us as individuals, and our church as the corporate body of Christ.

 

I hope that, if you participated in this endeavor, you emerged on the other side of it energized and ready to accept His assignments with power and passion. I know it really helped narrow my focus to diligently, persistently seeking God’s will for my life, ministry, and my role in the church. Remember, we’re not all meant to do the same thing – but we are all meant to be about the business of doing what God has for us to do. He will reveal it – we have to be willing to listen and be obedient.

 

I believe that God has great plans for us that are just waiting to be discovered. And, that discovery begins and ends with tenacious prayer. Do we want revival? We’ve fasted and prayed for it, now let’s be open to God’s bringing a fresh wind of renewal to our lives and our church. Do we want, truly want, to do the ministry work that God has planned for you? We have to be ready to answer affirmatively when God reveals it to us – no putting-off, negotiating, or reluctance. We as the church have sat silently for too long – now is the time for us to reassert ourselves in our culture, and share the Gospel without fear or shame. We are children of the one true King – let’s begin acting like it! And, that begins with expectant, fervent praying.

 

This year, let’s look expectantly toward Christmas – a time of hope, of victory – of revival. Think about the act of revival that took place on that night so long ago: God entered time and history to bring us back to Himself. He changed us, and eternity, with that one act. If that’s not revival, I don’t know what is!

 

My prayer for you and your family, from me and mine, is that you have a safe, happy Christmas season – and that we never forget the priceless act of love that brought Christ to earth.

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 

 



November 2016

REVIVAL: CALL TO FAST AND PRAY

 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

 
 

Commit to fast from November 1st until November 21st

Find something in your life that can be a distraction, and commit to give it up for this time period. It doesn’t have to be food – fasting from something can be food, or a specific food; but, it can also be social media, shopping, television – anything that can serve as a distraction to you as you focus yourself on praying and spending time keeping our church before God. Before you give up food for any length of time, I encourage you to talk to your doctor first.

 

While you’re fasting, spend time in prayer for our church.

Pray for the following things:
  • Unity – leaving those things that can serve to divide us with God to handle.
  • Family – Pray for each other, and the families in our church. We have no idea what’s going on behind the doors of our homes, but God does. Let’s lift each other up.
  • Ministry – Pray for the activities of our church, that they will be more than just stirring up dust, but will be about serving the lost and least, and doing it all to the glory of God, and not ourselves.
    • Worship – Pray that God will be glorified in our acts of worship. Pray that we will set aside our preferences, which will divide us, and unite behind the desire to lift God up, every time we gather for corporate worship.
  • Intimacy – Pray that God will ignite within each of us a passion for knowing Him more and better. Let that be reflected, not only in our prayers, but in our devotional activities as well.
  • Primacy – Pray that you, and your church, will put God first in everything we do. Pray that the center of His will is where we long to be, and won’t stop until we get there.
  • Revival – Pray that God will bring each of us into a relationship with Him that will result in a transformation of our lives, worship and ministry, and will leave us open to, and desperate for, revival in our lives, and in the life of our church.

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath