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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

 

 

 



October 2016

Breathe Deep

 

I read an article recently about a pastor who was leading a missions team to Peru. As the group got higher and higher into the mountains, he experienced something he never had before: altitude sickness. He talked about being more sick than he had ever been in his life – nausea, headache, extreme fatigue – all because of a lack of oxygen.

 

He described the suffering he went through, until somebody offered him some oxygen. He said, “Apparently altitude sickness is common enough among travelers that within minutes I was provided with an oxygen mask and tank for a quick hit.” And, within five minutes, he started to feel better. His energy returned, and the nausea went away. The headaches stopped.

 

He remarked, “It was startling to me how sensitive the human body is to a lack of oxygen in the air we breathe. I have been equally startled by how sensitive the church body is to a lack of what it needs to breathe.”

 

What is that “it” that is so critical to the life and productivity of the church? Unity. When there is unity in the church, there is health and vitality. When there isn’t, the very life breath – the very oxygen – the church needs to survive and thrive becomes thin. And, very quickly, the church gets very, very sick. And, it’s not just localized illness – it’s a systemic, whole-body sickness.

 

There is little sense of worship. We don’t try to evangelize. People aren’t getting reached for Christ. Ministry is replaced with programming. Discipleship is hollow and meaningless. All because of the lack of authentic community – precious unity.

 

It is certainly true that the body, given time, can acclimate itself to high altitudes and thin air. And, this can be a good thing. Not so much with the church, however. Many churches have become “acclimated” to sniping and disunity, and have become comfortable living with the sickness, as if it were normal.

 

It’s no wonder that disunity was the one thing that Jesus prayed against in His great High Priestly prayer before His crucifixion (John 13-17). Jesus prayed for unity and love among those who would share His name, because, He said, it would be the ultimate defense of His message and the message of the church.

 

In other words, it would be the very air we would need to breathe. Without it, we would stop growing, start stagnating, turn inward,and have nothing to offer the world’s great need.

 

I pray that this is never EBC. But, we have to be alert and on guard for its happening. It’s a gradual stifling of the body – and it will kill off our soul and destroy revival. Let this never be.

 

So, breathe deep. Inhale and exhale the very oxygen Christ wanted for our lives. And when you sense a little altitude sickness coming on – do whatever it takes to put on the mask quickly!

 

In His Love,

Bro Heath

                                

 

 

 

 

 

 



September 2016

The Sovereignty of God

 

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His Word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!”

(Psalm 103:19-22)
 
 

 

During my quiet times, I have been reading through the book of Psalms. And, the time I have spent there, reading songs and poems written by David and others, has been nothing short of transforming. It will really change your perspective to read about how others have encountered mountaintops and valleys, and have always kept the God of creation in front of them.

 

That’s sort of what led to the series we’re currently going through on Sunday mornings. It is impossible to read the psalms and not see the renewal, the revival, which came from David’s encounters with God. Good or bad, David knew where to place the honor and glory. And, by seeing and experiencing God’s protection of him, he left the lowest times in his life reinvigorated and full of praise!

 

 

We don’t always understand God’s purposes in adversity. We wonder why it happens, and how this could possibly benefit us. But,

Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purposes.”

 

David’s writings reveal to us that he knew that the Lord was in control, regardless of the circumstances he encountered. And, this serves as a great lesson for us, as well. Far from being perfect, the Bible shows us that David was a flawed, fallible human being, that was used by God, in spite of his issues. We see throughout the psalms David’s journey from adversity, sin, temptation, all the way to forgiveness and restoration.

Charles Stanley wrote,

“When he was running for his life from King Saul, God spared him. When he yielded to temptation with Bathsheba, God spared him. When his son attempted to take David’s throne, God spared him and kept him as king.”

This should be a source of unspeakable comfort to each of us who are saved and trying to live each day in a way that draws us ever closer to God and the example of His Son, our Savior.

 

Why? Through everything David experienced, he discovered that God was protecting and guiding him, using him for extraordinary purposes, despite his flaws. If we don’t believe that God is doing the same thing for us, where do we turn when the storms of life come?

 

In 1 Chronicles 29:12, David prays, “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” Faith enables us to believe in the Lord’s ability to do just that, in His sovereignty. Though we may not always understand his reasons, we can always be confident and hopeful in his purposes!

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 



August 2016

Words of Wisdom

 
Every so often, a thought so heartfelt, so meaningful, is shared by an obedient, faithful, Godly man or woman – and everybody needs to know about it.  This is one of those times, and James Young is that man.  His thoughts on prayer are spot on, not because he thought them up, but because he lives them every day.  I wanted you all to have the benefit of the words he wrote in a spiral notebook years ago – my prayer is that you will find them as relevant and instructive as I have.  Enjoy!
 

As I listened to a sermon on prayer one Sunday night, I began to think about and to recall some of the things I have learned about prayer and the results of prayer.

Praying is a two way thing. We talk to God, and He talks to us. Most of the time, we pray for something but don’t wait for, or listen for, the Lord’s reply. Here are some statements that I have learned that may help us to pray better:

  • Pray whereever you are and at any time. In most public places one person cannot pray out loud for everyone. However, each  individual can whisper a prayer. There will be others praying quietly while others have no idea what is going on around them. Don’t be afraid to pray while on the phone – but be sure to keep your eyes open if you are driving!
    • Be decisive when you pray. Don’t pray in generalities. Name the person or situation you are praying for.   God is aware of the person or need that you are coming to Him with.
    • Be careful what you pray for. There are some things that we ask for that when God begins to teach us when answering our prayer that can make our lives hectic or miserable.
    • Thank the Lord for what He has done and for what He will do for you. Look back on the past and see where the Lord has blessed you. Thanking Him for what He is going to do can mean that you know He will answer your prayers and that you will accept His answer.
    • Pray with the belief that God will answer you. He may say yes, no, or later. When He says yes, it means that what we prayed for will help us and will glorify God. When He says no or later we should not get angry, but try to see or understand the reason why. Later could mean that the time is not right, or that we would not accept His answer.
    • It took me a long time to realize that when we prayed for an ill person and they died, that God had answered our prayer but not in the way we had expected or hoped.

      There are different ways that the Lord can get our attention when He has something to say to us. Here are some: sitting quietly, when we sleep (dream), in a sermon, or through another Christian.

      Regardless of the method that the Lord uses to talk to us, we must be sure that what we hear or feel He is saying is really from Him. When there is a doubt, we can put out a fleece or ask God to show us that it is Him we hear.

      Prayer without faith will not accomplish anything. We must pray with a strong belief that God will hear and answer us.

      Here are some examples of how to pray:

      The proper way for a man to pray,

      Says Deacon Lemuel Keys,

      And the only proper way to pray

      Is down on his knees.

       

      No, I should say the way to pray,

      Says Reverend Doctor Wise,

      Is standing straight with outstretched arms

      And upturned eyes.

       

      Oh, no, no, no, said Elmer Slow,

      Such posture is too proud;

      A man should pray with eyes fast closed

      And head continually bowed.

       

      It seems to me his hands should be

      Austerely clasped in front;

      Both hands pointed toward the ground,

      Says Reverend Doctor Blunt.

       

      Last year I fell in Hitching’s well

      Head first, says Cyrus Brown.

      And both my heels were sticking up,

      And my head pointing down.

      And I made a prayer right then and there,

      The best prayer I ever prayed

      Was standing on my head.

       

      Putting complete faith while talking to and listening to our Lord will help us to overcome obstacles in our lives and touch the lives of those around us.

       

     

     

 

 



July 2016

Seek: Matthew 7:7-8

Through His love, God confirms His call on your life. We’ve been talking about what it really means when God saves you and calls you to join Him in loving, serving and reaching others. What an incredible experience it is when God reveals Himself to you, and tells you that He wants you – YOU – to be a vital part of His kingdom purposes!

 

Henry Blackaby wrote,

“The heart that seeks Him, finds him; the life that asks Him, receives; the one who knocks, God opens a door (Matthew 7:7-11).”

The real question is, are you seeking Him? I mean, it’s easy to say that you are seeking God’s will, but, when He tells you, are you ready to act? Ponder on these thoughts for just a few minutes:

 

  • The heart that is earnestly seeking Him will spend time in God’s Word every day. When we do, the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God like a sword (Ephesians 6:17) to convict us of sin, to lead us into “all truth,” to teach us “all things,” to help us remember all that Christ has been saying to us, and to help us understand and apply God’s will to our lives. God’s Word is all we need. Remember, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

  • The person with a heart seeking after God will also spend time in prayer. And, I don’t mean the glancing blow of prayer, where we bounce one off the throne when we need something. But, spending lots of time conversing with God, listening to Him, being still and knowing that He is God. God has given the Holy Spirit the responsibility of guiding us into the will of God as we pray. (Romans 8:26-27) It’s true, the more we pray, the more our prayer turns to a time that is God-centered, and not me-centered. Then, we will be receptive to His word to us, and will be ready to do His will.

     

    God will use this time with Him to affirm His call on your life. He will also use family or friends, or members of the church family as well. Has this ever happened to you – someone shares a Scripture with you that is the very same Scripture God gave you just a little while before? Or this – someone calls to tell you that they are praying for you, at the moment when you felt the most alone or vulnerable?

     

    That’s not a coincidence; that’s God reaching into history to touch you in a real, personal, intimate way. To let you know He is there, and that He cares. A dear friend calls it “a kiss” from God. I can’t think of a more accurate description! There are no coincidences in the life that is wholly yielded to God. He is completely involved in the life of the one He calls to go with Him.

     

    So, expect His call, and embrace it! God wants to use you – YOU – in an incredible way today!

     

    In His love,

    Bro. Heath

     

 

 

 



What Only You Can Do!

One of my all-time favorite passages in Scripture is Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His creation – created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
 
In just a few words, God, through the Apostle Paul, shared some pretty profound truths.
 

First, we are God’s creation. This has some pretty serious implications for us, particularly when we feel, or we’ve permitted others to make us feel, like we’re just not good enough. We have been created by God – made in His image! All of creation is a reflection of the love, beauty, majesty, and power of Almighty God. Do you think He would create something, or somebody, less than His best? Absolutely not! He created us to have a relationship with Him, so he gave us attributes and abilities that other creatures do not. We can relate to God, as He reveals Himself to us – there’s a Hebrew word for that, “WOW!”

Next, we have been created for good works, which God prepared before we were even a thought in anyone’s mind. God has big plans for us. He knew what He would have for us to do from the foundation of the world. Regardless of what you might think, God – through the ministry of the Holy Spirit – has given each of us gifts. That means that each of us have gifts and talents that are unique to only us! It also means something else: there are things in this world that only you can do. Your gift might be prayer and intercession, it might be teaching, it might be witnessing and evangelizing, it might be service (we’re all called to serve somewhere, but you might be really, really good at it!). Whatever the gift, whatever the talent – it’s yours, and you have received it from the Living God to usew in service to His kingdom – and it’s good.

 

Finally, we have been given these good works to perform, “so that we should walk in them.” Translation: you have been given gifts to employ for the good work of God’s Kingdom – so you need to be about the business of doing them! God didn’t create you, and give you a hope and a future, so that you could sit around waiting for something to happen. No – He created you to be a catalyst – to make the ministry, the work, the love – happen! That is a tremendous responsibility, and God will hold us accountable for how we live out the life He has given us. We are not only called, we are also accountable.

 

Know this – there is something of worth, value, and importance in the Kingdom of God that only YOU can do. If you know what God wants you to do, regardless of whether you think you can do it or not, what are you waiting for? If you are still searching for God’s will for your life, the best place you can be when you don’t know what to do is on your knees – that’s where Jesus went when He was troubled. So, pray. Seek His face. Let Him show you how to do what only you can do!

 

In His love,
Bro. Heath

 

 



April 2016

Take up Your Cross

Matthew 16:24

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.’”

 

Given that we’ve been going together through the Easter season, we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about the cross. I know, I know – you’re saying, “Preacher, don’t you realize that Easter’s about the resurrection, about new life, and the empty tomb?!” Well, that’s right, and it’s a beautiful part, filled with hope, and power and significance. But, it’s only part of the Easter story. The part that we really need to make sure we’ve got down is the cross, and what Christ accomplished through His sacrifice on our behalf.

 

You see, without the cross, there would be no resurrection. Without the cross, there would be no forgiveness and salvation. Without the cross, there would be no redemption and reconciliation. As Jesus died, He cried out “It is finished!” He said that there, on the cross, not in the doorway of the tomb. The ministry of healing that Jesus came to this earth to accomplish was completed at Calvary. That’s why we call the day we commemorate Christ death “Good Friday.”
 

 

I wonder if we give enough thought to the cross – what was done there, what Jesus went through, and what it cost the Father. If we did, I think we’d see more of a difference in our lives. We’d love others more. We’d serve others better. We’d forgive more readily. We’d give with greater abandon. And, most importantly, we’d surrender ourselves more completely to God and His plan for our lives.

 

In the Scripture passage above, Jesus told the disciples what would be required to be sons and daughters of the Living God. I mean, who doesn’t, once they’ve experienced life without Jesus, and seen what it can be with Him, wouldn’t want to go with Him – wherever He goes. The words of that old hymn come to mind: “Wherever He leads, I’ll go; I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so; Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” And that sounds great, until we think about where He went. To the cross. Are we ready for that?

 

That’s what He calls us to do. To abandon ourselves, to put down the life that we’ve created for ourselves and fall headlong into the life that God has designed especially for us. A life of service and sacrifice, to be sure. But, also a life of joy and peace and love. To pick up our own cross – a cross that represents a death of humiliation, shame, pain and unspeakable suffering – and bear it with courage, conviction, passion and hope – to wherever Jesus goes.

 

My prayer for us as Christians, and for us as a church, is that we will develop within ourselves the burning desire to go wherever Jesus goes, and do what He does, and be who He wants us to be. Make the cross a part of your life today!

 

In His Love,

Bro. Heath

 

 



March

Greetings! So it’s not often that I get to write the article for the newsletter so when I do, I like to do it from a musical viewpoint. I would like us to look at one of my favorite songs called, “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. This song is so beautiful, and slap full of truths! We have done it for a few weeks, but I would like to take the time to go a little deeper with the song. This song is literally taken straight from scripture. The lyrics below may look confusing because of all the scripture references jammed in there, but please take the time to read the scriptures that go with the song.

 

Lord, I come, I confess ( John 1:9) Bowing here I find my rest (Jeremiah 6:16, Matthew 11:29, John 14:27) Without You I fall apart (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3) You’re the One that guides my heart (Proverbs 3:5-6)  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       [Chorus:]                                                                                                                                                  
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You (Psalm 40:17, Psalm 70:5, Psalm 86:1, Philippians 4:19, Hebrews 4:16) Every hour I need. You My one defense, (Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1) my righteousness (Romans 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Philippians 3:8-9) Oh God, how I need You    
        
[Verse:]                  
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more (Romans 5:20-21) Where grace is found is where You are (2 Timothy 2:1)And where You are, Lord, I am free (2 Corinthians 3:17) Holiness is Christ in me (John 14:23, Romans 8:9-10, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:16-17, Colossians 1:27)    
                                                                                    
[Bridge:]                                                                                                                                                      
Teach my song to rise to You (Psalm 33:3, Psalm 119:11) When temptation comes my way (Matthew 6:13, Matthew 26:41, Luke 11:4, Luke 22:40, 1 Corinthians 10:13, James 4:7) And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) Jesus, You’re my hope and stay (1 Corinthians 3:11, 1 Timothy 1:1, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10)
 

Thank you for taking the time to look at this. I encourage you to come to choir practice Sunday nights at 6. Right now we are working on music for our Easter service this year! I would love to have you join us!

God Bless,

Tyler