First Baptist Church
Newton, IL

Worship News - 6/16/2021>

Greetings folks!

What a blessed time we had in worship last Sunday - and God has more blessings in store for us! Hope to see you this Sunday at 9 a.m.!

We had a great VBS as most of you have heard, and/or experienced, by now! Two young men made a decision to follow Christ as Savior. Many young lives were touched. We raised over $1,000.00 for Seth Weber and his family. Hard to believe the time has come and gone!

One important announcement about future plans. We are planning of having a free giveaway on Saturday, August 7, from 8 until noon. SO - start saving your clothes, etc., for this. Only one day this year, and we have also decided to hold off the Summer Fiesta. We will be recruiting volunteers for this! Set aside the date!

We are off to a good start with our Fishing for Missions - you will be hearing about this soon!

We are setting aside Wednesday nights for prayer. Join us at 6 as we pray for our church.

See you soon!

Pastor Steve


Devotionals
Pastor Steve Willis

Sunday June 20, 2021

The first formal "Father's Day" was celebrated JUNE 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd heard a church sermon on the newly established Mother's Day and wanted to honor her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, who had raised six children by himself after his wife died in childbirth. Sonora drew up a petition supported by the Young Men's Christian Association and the ministers of Spokane. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Spokane Fathers' Day service. President Nixon, in 1972, established Father's Day as a permanent national observance.

Today as you celebrate Father's Day, don't forget to honor our Heavenly Father who is with us always (Hebrews 13:5), will supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19), will help us in our times of trouble (Psalm 46:1), and will never change (James 1:17). God wants to take care of us even as an earthly father wants to take care of his children. Matthew 7:11 tells us "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

I was wonderfully blessed by my Heavenly Father with a Dad who loved me and taught me a number of important things - including the need to celebrate my Father who made our relationship possible. I am so thankful for both. Celebrate your father and your Father on Father's Day!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 19, 2021

Robert Fulghum wrote a little gem entitled "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." I have referred to this book from time to time. One of the things he wrote was "don't hit people." Our initial response to this little bit of advice is probably "Sure - you shouldn't hit other people!" And that is true. Most of us wouldn't dream of causing pain to someone else by hitting them. However, we are often guilty of bringing pain to other people by "hitting" them with an unkind act or saying something that is out of line or simply not being very nice.

As followers of Christ, we need to take care that we don't "hit" someone else. We get enough grief from life as it is, we shouldn't add to someone else's sadness by being unkind or unfriendly to them. People need encouragement and acceptance, not rudeness and rejection. If you are the reason someone else feels unwelcome or hurt - shame on you!

Proverbs 11:17 tells us, "A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself." Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us that kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Paul also tells us in II Timothy 2:24, "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone."

Don't hit people! Be kind! We live in an unkind world - make sure that kindness rules your life!

Pastor Steve
Friday June 18, 2021

In the 1983 film War Games, Matthew Broderick plays a young man who unwittingly hacks into a Defense Department computer, and thinking he was playing a computer game, almost causes a nuclear war. One wonders if this could actually happen. Well, it could, and in the days of the Cold War, it almost did. On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet officer, correctly identified a warning signal of an impending nuclear attack on the Soviet Union as a computer error thus averting a retaliatory strike against the United States. War Games had just been released in the summer of 1983. Rather ironic, don t you think?

You know, if you were to dwell on things like this, it could really bring about a lot of fear. For some, it does. However, we who know God know He is a Sovereign Lord who is in control and has told us what will take place to bring about the end times. Many fear a nuclear holocaust and believe that human actions will bring about an apocalyptic end to our world. God is the one in charge, and He is the one who will cause things to happen according to His timetable and in His way. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. Job was reminded of this when God said to him, "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand (Job 38:3-4)."

Don't spend time needlessly worrying about things that will not happen. Trust God who knows the future and knows your future. Now, if you have not placed your trust in Him, then that would be a good thing to do because "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever (Psalm 125:1). Don't play games with your life - let God take control!

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 17, 2021

Do you ever wonder why cotton candy exists? If there was ever something that was actually nothing, cotton candy is just that. When you look at it, it looks so delightful, so delicious, so delectable. Then, when you start chomping down on that big mound of colorful fluff, that is exactly what you get - a big mound of colorful fluff and little else. Yet, it still proves to be a staple at amusement parks, fairs, and festivals. I know many of you are cotton candy fans. I am just not one of you in this category. It just really doesn't offer much in spite of its attractive appearance. Some may disagree, but we are all searching for something in life. We have a longing within us that wants to be satisfied. There is so much "cotton candy" out there that looks good but really doesn't satisfy our hunger. Satan offers much that would seem to satisfy, but certainly doesn't.

Christ speaks to this issue of spiritual hunger in the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:6, we hear Christ saying, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." We have an inner hunger, an inner thirst, that can only be satisfied by that which Christ provides. He tells us in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

We have a spiritual longing, a spiritual hunger and thirst that only Christ can satisfy. Don't pursue the cotton candy of the world. Look no farther than what you see in Christ. He will take care of your needs. He will give you joy that will be more than just a sugar high. Why settle for nothing when you can have something?

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 16, 2021

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. Known as "The Little Flower" because of his diminutive size, he was well-liked because of his fearlessness, lack of pretension, and fairness. From time to time during his tenure, he would serve as judge during night court. Once, a man was brought in who had been accused of stealing a loaf of bread. The man confessed, saying it was for his starving family. LaGuardia said "The law is the law - the fine is ten dollars." He then proceeded to take ten dollars from his own wallet for the fine. He also told everyone else in the courtroom to donate fifty cents to the man to help him. Quite a story of grace, isn't it?

We stand condemned before Christ, who is the Righteous Judge. Our sins have condemned us, and the penalty is death. There is no way around the judgment, but Christ took care of the penalty. He gave his own life for us, and then made sure we have all we need to live for him. II Peter 1:3 tells us: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

Christ has taken care of the problem we face because of our sin. Our guilt is removed through his act of grace. LaGuardia's actions over a loaf of bread were a good example of grace. Christ, as the Bread of Life (see John 6:35 & 48), is grace.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 15, 2021

An older lady was preparing to move into an assisted living facility upon the death of her husband after 70 years of marriage. "Wilma" was someone who tried to meet each new day with joy and eagerness, looking forward to what was in store for her.

On the day she was supposed to go to her new home, a neighbor drove her there. When they arrived, they were told it would be a little while as the room was not quite ready. Finally, after waiting for some time, an attendant came and told them that it was finished. "Your room is all prepared for you," she said. "There are new curtains on the window, and we have recently changed the color of the walls. There is new furniture, and a lovely quilt on the build I think you will like." "Oh, I love it!" exclaimed Wilma. "But you haven't seen it yet, Mrs. Jones," the attendant replied. "That doesn't matter," said Wilma. "Happiness is something you choose. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the room is arranged, it's how I arrange my mind."

Well, isn't that something to think about? We usually let circumstances dictate how we feel. Be proactive about your mindset. Remind yourself often of what Christ has done for you and be thankful. in Philippians 4:6-8, Paul tells us "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." This is how to arrange your mind.

Pastor Steve
Monday June 14, 2021

I have heard it said, "Never trust a carpenter with soft hands." The meaning of this is evident - if someone claims to be a carpenter then the hands should let it be known. If someone claims that they are in the business of carpentry and their hands look like they have never touched the first piece of wood, then you may want to think twice before you have them fix your roof or add a room to your house. And you certainly need to think carefully before you let them build a house for you. One's hands reveal something of the kind of work he or she does.

What do your hands reveal? You may say, "Well, I am not sure my hands reveal anything." Perhaps you are correct when it comes to your physical hands, but what about the hands you are using to do work for Christ? What about the hands you should be using to reach out to someone who is struggling making a rent payment? What about the hands you should be using to reach out to someone who has just lost a loved one? What about the hands you should be using to reach out to someone with the message of the Savior? Do they show any "wear and tear?"

Our hands should give evidence of what we do, and I hope my hands show that I am living for my Lord. If not, I need to start doing what I should be doing. Along with Moses, we should pray, "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us yes, establish the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:17)

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 13, 2021

Some time ago an old house near where I live was torn down. Now, I knew it was an old house before they started the demolition, but as they peeled off the outer layer of shingles, it was apparent to me the structure was even older than what I first thought. The removal of the outer layer of shingles exposed another layer of shingles that was from a much earlier era of building. It is amazing what can be covered up by a new layer of material, isn't it?

Sometimes the same is true in our lives. We try to cover up things about ourselves that we don't want others to know. We try to be something that we are not. We try to hide things. We do good things, but we don't have the right motive for doing them. Sometimes we are successful at covering up things, sometimes we are not. Of course, there is one person that we can never fool - and that is God. We read in I Samuel 16:7: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Often, we are able to fool others with a "new coat of shingles," but we can never fool God. God knows the real us and no amount of effort will keep him from knowing the real us. Be you! Don't try to be someone or something that you are not! This honors God, and honors you!

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 12, 2021

"I'm too blessed to complain." Now, isn't that an intriguing perspective? I remember reading this unique statement somewhere, and it left an impression. We are usually so busy focusing on the rotten stuff that takes place in our lives that we forget to look at the things for which we should give thanks.

We need to concentrate on developing an attitude of gratefulness (you probably thought I was going to say "attitude of gratitude there", didn't you?), but our tendency is to pile on with the negatives. I have used my mom on more than one occasion to illustrate this concept. I remember her saying so many times after her fall that basically left her confined to a chair for the last two and a half years of her life, "I am so blessed."

We should realize that for all the junk we face, there are many good experiences that need to be appreciated. Instead of lamenting what doesn't go our way, we need to focus on the gifts God has given to us. Psalm 107:8 tells us, "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for humankind." We should focus on our gifts rather than our "lacks." Even when we experience the lows of life, we should focus on what we receive from on high. We are certainly "too blessed to complain."

Pastor Steve
Friday June 11, 2021

In the vows that I use when I perform a wedding there is a time when I have the bride and the groom pledge their love to each other "in prosperity or in adversity." The pledge is to be true to each other regardless of the circumstances. The idea is that in either extreme, their love and commitment will remain.

The extremes of either of these states can be dangerous. It can be just as harmful to experience an extreme in prosperity as it is to experience extreme adversity. This is true not just in the marriage relationship but in our lives in general. Having too little can be life-threatening, but having too much can be life-altering. A person who has too much can encounter as much difficulty as the person who does not have enough.

Agur writes in Proverbs 30:8-9, "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." He asks to be kept from extremes, only wanting that which will be enough to sustain him. He is afraid that either extreme would interfere with his relationship with God.

We certainly want to be able to live in such a way that we do not have to worry how we are going to live another day, but we also should not covet more than we need. We should be satisfied with what we have and not constantly desire more, thinking that this will bring us happiness and security.

The next time you find yourself coveting what you do not have, take a moment to consider the danger you may be placing yourself in with your lack of satisfaction. Craving what we cannot have can lead us into a life of discontent and bitterness. Gratefulness for what we have demonstrates our faith and leads to a life of peace.

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 10, 2021

There is a scene in the movie "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" where Captain Jack Aubrey, played by Russell Crowe, tells his crew, "Although we are on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship is England." Dennis Fisher commented, "Captain Aubrey's view of citizenship is based on loyalty, not location."

As followers of Christ, this needs to be our attitude about our current place of existence and where our citizenship actually lies. The writer of Hebrews talks about the attitude of people of faith, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:13-16)

We need to remember that though we are living on earth, our home lies elsewhere. Regardless of where we are spatially, as followers of Christ, our home is somewhere else spiritually. Let's live as citizens of the land where we will be, not the land where we are.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 09, 2021
I remember an incident when I was a young boy in school when two of my classmates got into a scuffle during recess. I knew that if they continued, they would get in real trouble, maybe even be expelled from school for a time. So, I intervened and broke up the fight. Another of our classmates said to me, "Why didn't you let them fight? It was fun watching them!" I disagreed and, for some reason, quoted Matthew 5:9 to him. I think I had just learned it in Sunday School or our youth group or something. This verse says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." My classmate looked at me as if I had two heads or something and just walked away.

Those who seek peace in their lives, and do what they can to settle differences between others are truly blessed. Conflicts are inevitable, what we need are those with cool heads who can speak to situations where reason is needed to head off a problem. We have enough "hotheads" in the world. We need those who will keep calm when tempers flare.

Eric Liddell, after his Olympic championships, served as a missionary to China for 20 years. He died in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. During his time there, he made a profound impression on those in the camp because of his efforts to preserve peace in stressful times. Even the guards noticed his penchant for conflict resolution. One guard upon his death commented, "He was a Christian, wasn't he?"

Are you known as a peacemaker or a trouble maker? You and only you can determine which you are.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 08, 2021

Some of you have perhaps been in a leadership position and have felt resistance to your ideas and your direction. At those times, we need to make sure our motives and thoughts are in the right place. We should speak the truth in love, but we need to make sure we are doing so from a position of grounded thinking that is not rooted in our own ego. This is good advice for those in leadership in any circumstance - jobs, organizations, committees, community agencies, and certainly in churches.

When you are in a position of leadership, you need to lead by example, and follow the example you have before you. When we are in a position of leadership in the church, and this goes for anyone, not just pastoral leaders, we need to always follow the example and teaching of Christ. We are imperfect people, but God can still use us and wants to use us but we need to be committed to his principles. We must never forget our accountability before God and we work with and as we lead others.

Jesus said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48) This has application to leadership roles. Lead the way Christ intends for you to lead.

Pastor Steve
Monday June 07, 2021

Did you hear about the golfer who set his local country club on fire? And I don't mean in a figurative sense by shooting a low score, I mean literally set it on fire. He didn't mean to, he was just playing out of the rough, as all of us who have ever played golf have had to do at one time or another. He was playing a shot out of tall, dry grass. During his swing, he hit a rock embedded in the ground, causing a spark. The spark set the grass ablaze and before the blaze was stopped, 25 acres had been charred. It took 120 firefighters, several fire trucks, and a helicopter to extinguish the blaze. This incident sort of adds another twist to the song "It only takes a spark. . ."

This story goes to show what a little spark can do. We should keep this in mind when it comes to our ideas to help others. We need to keep this in mind when it comes to our contribution to the ministry of our church. Do you see an area of need? Well, why not provide the spark that gets the fire started to take care of that need? Big movements and big contributions often start with small steps.

Naaman's maid provided a spark that led to the fires of healing for Naaman. When she learned of Naaman's plight, she made the brief statement, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy (II Kings 5:3)." Perhaps you are familiar with the story I encourage you to read II Kings 5. The girl s little spark led to big results. She suggested that Elijah be contacted on behalf of Naaman. He was, and Naaman s encounter with Elijah resulted in his healing from his leprous condition.

Don't discount your idea because you think it might be too insignificant. Don't downplay or count out those "little" thoughts - they just might be the spark needed to start a big fire. Now, we don't need "wildfires," but we often need to have a fire set under us to keep us from becoming stale and bring improvement. You might just have the right idea to bring about good things.

Pastor Steve
Sunday June 06, 2021

A man was in a hospital recovering from heart surgery. A nurse came in the room and asked if he needed anything. He said, "I would like some ice." The nurse said, "Would you like a new BMW or some ice chips?" The man replied quickly, "Ice chips!" "Don't ever forget that," the nurse said.

Many might think this an unrealistic story because, well, who would want ice chips over a BMW? Actually, it is a true story, and I would imagine that those of you who have had surgery could vouch for its realism. Having had surgery a few times, I know that I certainly can.

Certain things in life remind us of the need to be thankful for the little things. I hope you don't need a stay in the hospital to teach you this lesson. We should never take little things for granted.

Colossians 3:16-17 tells us, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Be grateful for all things, great or small. Many times ice chips are indeed superior to BMW's.

Pastor Steve
Saturday June 05, 2021

Florence Chadwick was a long-distance swimmer from the middle of the last century. Among her many accomplishments was being the first female swimmer to cross the English Channel both ways. In 1952 Chadwick attempted to swim 26 miles from the coast of California to Catalina Island. After 15 hours, a heavy fog began to block her view, she became disoriented, and she gave up. To her chagrin, Chadwick learned that she had quit just 1 mile short of her destination.

Two months later Chadwick tried a second time to swim to Catalina Island from the coast. Again, a thick fog settled in, but this time she reached her destination, becoming the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel. Chadwick said she kept an image of the shoreline in her mind even when she couldn't see it.

I take away a couple of important life principles from this story. The first is that when you fail in some effort, learn from what went wrong and then try again. Of course, this suggestion presupposes that you did learn something from your initial experience, and that you have the courage to try again. You need both - the education you obtained from failure and then actually putting your new-found knowledge into another effort.

A second thing I take from Chadwick's experience is the importance of having the correct focus in life's endeavors. Life brings many challenges that sometimes even takes us to the brink of throwing up our hands and admitting defeat. Looking with our eyes of faith as to what is ahead, especially at times when we cannot actually see what is ahead, is what can help us see through the fog and continue going forward. A beneficial exercise is to develop a mental picture of what lies ahead at the end of our journey, and focusing on this as we wade through our struggle. Hebrews 12:1 2 encourages us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews also tells how looking ahead to an unseen goal as if if were seen motivated Abraham, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:8 11)

As we focus on what will be, even when we cannot see what will be, we find strength in our struggle with what now is. Look to that reality to help with real solutions in the midst of our often-foggy journey.

Pastor Steve
Friday June 04, 2021

I have always been fascinated by the story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In 1803, they were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to find a route across the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean. I just cannot imagine the spirit and fortitude these men and those who were with them must have had. They had no idea where they were going, they weren't entirely sure what they would find when they got where they were going, and they really weren't quite sure what they would find along the way. Yet, they went.

One encounter they had on their journey proved to be rather helpful - they were joined by a French fur trader and his Native American wife, Sacajawea. If you know the story of Lewis and Clark, you know the incredible significance of this "chance" meeting. Sacajawea's help was invaluable - she was able to be a guide, a translator, a cook, and a tremendous ally. A further development was finding her brother, who was now the chief of their tribe. It is really hard to speculate how much different this expedition would have been had Lewis and Clark not met these people who became trusted advisors on their two-and-a-half-year journey. The meeting was unexpected, yet was certainly welcome and invaluable.

You may feel like you are embarking on a journey into the "unknown." You may be facing a circumstance in your life where you really don't know much about what is going to happen. Maybe it is a new job, a new locale, new relationships. Maybe you are facing something that is going to be more challenging than these events - you have encountered a loss, you are facing an illness, or something has happened that is causing some other hardship. When these things happen, realize that God can and will provide help. Sometimes this help comes in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. God can provide help from unexpected sources. Continue to look to him and realize he is there. The way ahead may look mysterious, but not to God. He is there, he knows he way, and he will not leave you stranded.

Ancient pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for feasts sang, "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2)." They were looking for help because the road in front of them was filled with dangers. God was there to provide help for them, and he is here to provide help for us.

Pastor Steve
Thursday June 03, 2021

In generations past, something that would bring a good deal of excitement to a family was the arrival of a new catalog. Be it from Sears, J.C. Penney, or Montgomery Ward, a new "wish book" was highly anticipated as the pages were filled with items one could see and hope to obtain. I remember my great anticipation of the Christmas catalogs from Sears and Penney s. I would thumb through the toy sections, looking at various items which I thought would look great under the tree on Christmas morning. There were always so many items I hoped to see in real life.

The Bible is a book that brings great hope as well; however, the hope it brings is of a more lasting nature and of greater consequence than the items one would see in catalogs. The Bible describes man's need and God's provision. It outlines God's plan of redemption for mankind and the blessed hope that is ours when we come to God by faith. What is contained in the pages of scripture is hope. The hope that is presented in the scripture is certainly not like the pictures in a new catalog - objects that we may or may not obtain. What is described in the Bible is a hope that is ours when we follow our Lord.

Hebrews 6:18-19 describes this hope, "God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."

Don't wish for things that you may not have - put your hope in God and what he tells us is ours when we follow Him. The Bible is not a book of wishful thinking; it describes a reality that is ours when we place our faith in Christ's provision. Looking at the pages of a catalog and wishing for things we want and then don't receive brings disappointment. Reading the Bible and placing our hope in what it says will never disappoint. What God says is ours is really ours - and no one can change it!

Pastor Steve
Wednesday June 02, 2021

I have always enjoyed reunions, especially family reunions, whether of the "formal" or "informal" variety. After over a year of not being able to have such events, it is really nice to be returning to these times. As many of you know, recently I was in Ohio for a "reunion" concert of "Get All Excited," a group my brothers and I had, along with a number of others, when I lived in Ohio. That was a great experience and getting together with my family and friends was a treat. Experiences like this have proved precious over the last 43 years.

The biggest down side to these events is that they don't last. There is always a time when goodbye had to be said, and we return home. We had planned for our recent reunion for several weeks, and it was all too short when it took place. That is the nature of our times of reunion here and now.

One of the great things about our experience in heaven is that when the gathering has been joined, it will never be dismissed. That will be one of the truly marvelous things about heaven. I cannot help but think that our time in heaven will be spent with loved ones and people with whom we will share stories and share our lives. Paul writes that there will be a reunion that will never end, "The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

John writes, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (I John 1:7) This verse describes what takes place in this life, and is something that will continue to take place in our lives in heaven because of what Christ has done for us. I know I will enjoy that reunion.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday June 01, 2021

When I was a teenager, I had a camp counselor who would declare "I don't get mad, I just get even" when he found himself on the receiving end of some practical joke. That may be all well and good when you are talking about some light-hearted fun, but there are some who are intent on revenge when the stakes involve more than just jokes.

Seeking revenge is not a behavior a follower of Christ should pursue. We may experience circumstances where we would really like to "get back" at someone, but we need to take a different path. Seeking revenge lowers us to the place of those who have caused our problem to begin with, and may cause us to violate the Christian principles of fairness, kindness, forgiveness, and love for others. We need to allow the goodness of Christ dictate our response at times when we are wronged or are trying to deal with someone who irritates us.

Paul wrote, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19-21)

Respond in God's way, not your way, when you find you are in a position where you really would like to do something to someone because they have done something to you. Don't get mad, and don't get even, get glad with God's goodness!

Pastor Steve
Monday May 31, 2021

Today is Memorial Day. This day has its roots in the Civil War, when people started getting together to lay flowers on the graves of those who were killed in the conflict. On May 30, 1868, Gen. John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued a proclamation that May 30 be a day of remembrance of those who gave their lives in battle. May 30 was chosen as there were no battles fought on that day, and it would be a time of year when flowers would be abundant. It was actually first known as Decoration Day, and those of my generation and older probably remember using this term for this holiday. It was not until 1971 that it became an official holiday of the U.S., and the observance was set to be the last Monday in May. At 3 p.m. local time, individuals are to stop for a moment of silence. The day has broadened to be an observance of all of those who have died.

I don't know how you will spend today, but I hope you do take some time for a "memorial." Remembering death can bring sadness, but we as followers of Christ know that death need not be feared. We know that those who die in the Lord live on. So, we can take time today not just for a memorial, but for a celebration. I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul reminds us, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words."

This Memorial Day, I am encouraged by the knowledge of our hope in Christ. My desire for you is that you are as well. Happy Memorial Day!

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 30, 2021

One of my favorite groups is the Newsboys. It is hard to believe that they have been around since 1985. The group started in Australia but, of course, have become really popular world-wide. If you are fan of the Newsboys, you know they have had two different lead singers. Peter Furler started with the group in 1985. In 2009, Furler decided to step back to a consulting role, continuing to write songs and do solo work. Michael Tait came on board as the lead singer. Many of you know that Tait was a singer with DC Talk, another group I really enjoy.

The Newsboys had a marvelous ministry with both singers. Then, in 2017, it was announced that Furler was coming back. He wasn't going to replace Tait, but the group started touring as "Newsboys United." If you have heard any of the songs they have produced together, you know this was a good decision. The group made an impact with either lead singer, but when the singers "united," there was an extra measure of "oomph" that transcended what was done with a single singer. There was a whole other level of dynamics with the singers working together. They "took things up a notch," so to speak. This was really a good idea.

It is always a good idea when we decide to unite and combine our efforts. This is true at any level, and is especially true when we are talking about our ministry efforts. We can make beautiful music as a solo act, but combining efforts with others leads to an extra measure of "oomph" that transcends what can be done singly. Another level of dynamics is added that is not possible with a solo "performance."

This is not just a plea to work to promote unity, this is also a suggestion for those who are getting along just fine. Consider making a special effort to combine your work, combine your thoughts, combine your efforts. You may be amazed at what transpires.

When Paul set out on his "missionary" endeavors, he did not go alone. On his first journey, he had Barnabas. (Acts 13:2) When he decided to visit the churches again, Silas was his with him. (Acts 15:40) Proverbs 27:17 tells us, "Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another. " This statement is made in Ecclesiastes 4:9, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil." Unite your efforts to create extra oomph in your outreach!

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 29, 2021

Intentions are a good thing. We need to have intentions to help others, to help ourselves, our family members, and to do something for God. However, good intentions need to be turned into action, or they are only so much mind clutter. We need to act on our ideas, to turn thoughts into realities. Saying "Well I intend to help you is really no help at all unless we pick up the other end of the table someone is trying to move.

Paul tells Timothy to instruct his people to "do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (I Timothy 6:18)

Are you rich in good deeds, or are you always saying, "Well, I wanted to do that. . ." Be a person of action. Let your intentions be demonstrated through your deeds. Good intentions need to become good actions.

Pastor Steve
Friday May 28, 2021

Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship last weekend and in doing so, established a number of records with his win. The most significant record is that he is now the oldest individual to win a major golf tournament on the PGA Tour. Another record is that he is the first person to have competed and won on the Champions Tour and then win a major championship on the "regular" tour. I tried to research this, but I think he may be the first to have competed, much less won, on the Champions Tour and then won a tournament of any kind on the PGA tour. This was quite an accomplishment.

The Champions Tour offers older golfers the unique opportunity to continue making money in their sport long after athletes in others sports no longer are able to participate. Many golfers have had much greater success and made more money in their "senior" years than they did on the PGA tour. In one way, it is a "second chance" for golfers.

Are you in need of a second chance? With God, we do have the unique opportunity to have a second chance. Most of God's "Hall of Famers" were people who needed a second chance. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, were all people who did something that for all intents and purposes should have "disqualified" them. However, because of God's great grace and patience, God used them to do great things. He said of David, "I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do (Acts 13:22)." He said this in spite of David's sin.

God will give you a second chance. God is willing to forgive you and use you in spite of what might have happened in your life. Come to him, let him develop your character, let him put you where you are most useful. He can make you better than before!

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 27, 2021

For whom do you pray? We usually pray for ourselves, which is reasonable. We pray for family and friends, folks at church, and others we hear about through church prayer chains or other means. We pray for our troops and our political leaders. This is as it should be. Colossians 1:9-10 speaks about intercessory prayer, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

I encourage you to develop a ministry of intercessory prayer. Include in your prayers those whom you know, and how about praying for those whom you don't know? What about praying for the person who waits on you in a restaurant when you are on vacation? How about the person who takes your ticket at a ball game or concert? What about praying for your mail delivery person when you see them? The reason I suggest this is praying for people we don't know all that well, or maybe not at all, and praying at times we might consider "non-prayer times" can deepen your commitment to prayer and enhance your prayer life. We sometimes get in such a rut with some of our spiritual routines, and prayer is one of them. Stepping "outside the box" can help us expand our thinking and enrich our experience.

Remember to pray, and pray at times you normally wouldn't think about praying. Pray for those for whom you normally might not think to pray. This will be good for you and for them and will help us to "please God in every way."

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May 26, 2021

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a great preacher from the 19th century, commented that we should begin each new day with this thought, "Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers incense, and your breath praise." That sounds like a good way to start each day. Let's look at what Spurgeon was saying.

Let your thoughts be psalms. I encourage people to make a habit of reading the Psalms. The book of Psalms is a commentary on life. In the psalms we see expressions of joy, of sadness, of grief, of anger, and many other characteristics of life experiences. We see expressions of frustration, of elation, of dedication. Reading and meditating upon the psalms helps us gain perspective on what we are facing.

Let your prayers be incense. In the Jewish tabernacle, and later in the temple, incense was burned continuously as a perpetual symbol of prayers being lifted up to God (Exodus 30:7-10). It was a special type of incense, it was offered continually, and the aroma of the incense would fill the holy place with a tangible reminder of prayers being offered to God. We read the words of David in Psalm 141:2, "May my prayer be set before you like incense."

Let your breath be praise. The final statement of the book of Psalms is "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD (Psalm 150:6)." We shouldn't wait for Sunday to give praise to God. Just as our prayers go up continually, so should our praise be offered continually. David said in I Chronicles 16:25, "For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise." We should develop an attitude of praise.

This sounds to me as a good way to get our day started. We know it would please the Lord, and it would help us keep in mind just why we are here.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May 25, 2021

Some of you may have had an experience in a flight simulator. A flight simulator is set up so that an individual can have the experience of flying an aircraft as a training event without actually flying an aircraft. The simulator mocks the actual flying experience as closely as possible, even trouble scenarios, to help potential pilots learn how to fly. The obvious advantage is if the pilot makes a mistake, there are no actual consequences. You simply hit reset and try again.

Wouldn't it be great if our lives were like that? Wouldn't it be good to have trial runs and then be able to hit reset? The thing is you can't. As followers of Christ, we know we can have a fresh start when we come to him and are forgiven. We know God forgives us for what we have done; however, we need to remember that we can still experience the consequences of our mistakes. Therefore, we need to take care of how we live. We can't just go around saying, "I'll live how I want because God will forgive me." I find that there aren't many folks who would actually say that, but there are those who live as if what they do in their lives will not bring about consequences. Yes, there is forgiveness with God, but there are still consequences to actions.

Consider the case of David. God forgave him for his terrible choice of sleeping with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed, but David still experienced the consequences of losing the child (II Samuel 12) and facing family strife (II Samuel 13) as a result.

We cannot view God as a "cosmic flight simulator" and all we need to do is simply hit reset. We should not presume upon the forgiveness of God. God is a God of love, grace, and mercy, but he is also just. He will forgive us for our bad choices, but not keep us from the consequences of the choices we make.

Paul wrote, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!" (Romans 6:1) Watch what you are doing as you live your life; there are consequences to your choices that can't be reset.

Pastor Steve
Monday May 24, 2021

"It is no longer enough that we pray that God may be with us on our side. We must learn to pray that we may be on God's side." Isn't that a great statement? Do you wonder who made it? Think it might have been some well-known theologian or a popular preacher? Well, actually it was one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century - Wernher von Braun. He developed the V-2 rocket for Germany which was used in warfare in WWII. He didn't design the rocket for this application,

Dr. von Braun later emigrated to the United States where he became the father of the space program. He had a profound effect on the history of the 20th century. While his intelligence is obvious from his accomplishments and contributions, equally obvious is his profound understanding of his relationship with God.

Many times we pray to try to "change God's mind" and to ask him to cause something to happen in a way we think is best. Instead, we need to be pray that we learn to come into conformity with what God desires and what he has designed. We need to let him act in the way he knows is best. Praying in this way shows that we trust him and that we understand his concern and commitment to our well-being.

Matthew 7:9-11 gives a commentary on this understanding, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Von Braun understood this. He knew we should trust God and get on the same page with God, instead of trying to convince God to get on the same page with us. This isn't "rocket science" (oh, I couldn't resist that). It is just a matter of trusting God!

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 23, 2021

Often we struggle in our faith because of the suffering we see in the lives of others and the suffering we experience in our own lives. We often wonder what we did to cause the pain we have, or why we are enduring the struggle we are facing. The writer of Psalm 10 asked, "Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" Maybe you have felt that way at times, or perhaps even now have a similar question in your heart.

Philip Yancey wrote an excellent little book on suffering entitled "Where Is God When It Hurts?" In this book, he gives some thoughts about the reasons that God allows suffering:

1. Suffering helps us realize our urgent need for redemption.

2. Suffering helps us experience our dependence on God and our interdependence with one another.

3. Suffering helps us distinguish between necessities and luxuries.

4. Suffering helps us respond to the call of the gospel because we may have become so desperate that we cry out to God.

God does not allow suffering for no reason. The reason, or reasons, may not be clear to us when we are surrounded by the struggle, but we know we can trust God to be with us and to see us through for his glory.

There is abundant evidence in Scripture about the presence and provision of God in the midst of trials and tribulations. Turning again to Psalms, we find this statement: "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." (Psalm 34:17-19)

This psalm plainly states that we should not expect to be free of afflictions; but we can expect God's presence and help in the midst of afflictions. I don't know what you are facing today, but rest assured as you continue to trust in the abundant resources of our loving God, he will provide a way for you to find strength in your struggle and to ultimately be delivered from your pain.

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 22, 2021

We have had a gazebo on our back deck for five years now. Two friends helped me put it together, and I remember that time well. As I opened the box and surveyed the hundreds of parts inside, my first thought was, "What in the world have I done?" The beautiful gazebo that I had ordered came shipped to us in two large boxes and didn't look anything at all as was pictured. What to do? Well, the first thing was to find the instructions and see where these parts fit. This was complicated by the fact that the instructions had gotten wet and were unreadable. This is story for a different time - suffice it to say that I was able to replace the instructions and went forward from there.

Going forward meant following the instructions carefully to see where all those little parts fit. I learned long ago that when you assemble something of this sort, you don't freelance; you follow the instructions. And you remember that each piece, regardless of how small and insignificant it may seem, is important. With the help of friends through a few sessions, and following the instructions, we now have an attractive gazebo in the middle of our deck.

A thought that came to me from time to time throughout the process was, "It would be great if we had the person who designed this gazebo here to help us. That would make things go better." That would have been a great advantage.

We have that advantage in our lives. We have the Designer with us as we put pieces of our lives together. We may have times where we feel as if our lives are in pieces and we don't know how things go together. At other times, we may not be sure what options to follow to put things together the right way. When this happens, it is best to make sure that we are following the instructions given us, and that we allow the Designer to weigh in on what goes next. When we do this, the "What in the world have I done?" moments are eradicated.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.'" Psalm 32:8 declares, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." Let God take the lead in the assembly process in your life. Then you will turn those "What in the world have I done?" moments into, "Look what the Lord has done!"

Pastor Steve
Friday May 21, 2021

A man decided it was time to get in shape. So, he started working out. Day one went well with some weight-lifting and a mile run. On day two, he ran a mile and a half. Day three included more weight-lifting and a run of two miles. When he woke up on day four, he had a sore throat and a headache. His conclusion? Exercise had caused his affliction and wasn't good for him, so he stopped working out. Doesn't this sound a little goofy?

This isn't any goofier that what some believers think. They start reading the Bible and spending more time in prayer, then decide to stop because their lives don't improve. They still face struggles and rough patches. Why try to get closer to God if you still have troubles?

We don't draw closer to God just to make our lives better. We draw closer to God because that is what we should be doing in our lives. Drawing closer to God does not prevent rough times in our lives. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (II Timothy 3:12) We live for Christ for the purpose of living for Christ. "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 1o:22)

Live for Christ for the sake of living for Christ not for the sake of a worry-free life.

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 20, 2021

This is the 94th anniversary of one of the greatest events in aviation history - the beginning of Charles Lindbergh's solo Atlantic crossing in "The Spirit of St. Louis." The 33 1/2-hour flight was a landmark in aviation history and paved the way for growth in the aviation industry. In our day and time of "frequent flyer miles", sometimes it is hard for us to realize the enormity of this accomplishment.

A barnstormer with a St. Louis-based company, Lindbergh became committed to making the flight. It would require a great deal of ingenuity and a great deal of faith. First, the plane only had one engine. I don't think I have to elaborate on what this meant. Secondly, he would have to "fly blind." In order to carry enough fuel, extra tanks were added that obscured his straight-on line of sight. This meant he would have to trust the instruments on his panel. During the flight, he would often have to fight off the effects of fatigue that caused him to struggle with the use of the gauges as his guide. He needed to rely upon them completely or he would veer off course, run out of fuel, and crash in the Atlantic. His survival depended on his trust in his instruments.

This is another aspect of Lindbergh's experience that is taken for granted today. Pilots of modern aircraft must constantly look to instruments to know where they are and how they are flying. Trusting one's own thinking leads to flying off-course, maybe even flying upside down, and not being able to realize your error. You can't use "landmarks" as guides; "turn right when you get to the third cloud on the left" doesn't work. I remember watching the biopic "The Spirit of St. Louis" when I was a kid and being absolutely enthralled with this concept of "flying blind." How can you do this? It is something that simply must be done.

This is the way it is for followers of Christ. We need to trust our Guide completely in order to stay on course. Sometimes we feel as if we are "flying blind." At those times we know we can trust Christ's navigation. Actually, we should trust Christ's navigation at all times and avoid saying, "I have this." We never "have it" without his leadership.

Proverbs 3:4-5 tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." Paul gave this admonition, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1) We need to trust Christ even more fervently than Lindbergh trusted his instruments. Our survival depends on it.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May 19, 2021

Have you ever used WD-40? This is almost a rhetorical question, as WD-40 is one of those products that almost everyone uses. I have used WD-40 to help loosen rusted bolts, help loosen stubborn fasteners, and even to help install lateral files.

This latter statement may raise the question, "How did WD-40 help you install a lateral file?" Well, first of all, it was actually 50 lateral files, and I didn't install them on my own.

When we lived in Dallas 40 years ago, I worked for an office systems installation firm. Once, I was supervising an installation when we encountered a little problem. We needed to slide and gang 50 lateral files into enclosures that had been built into walls. The fit was tight and the files were not cooperating. So, I came up with the idea to spray the surfaces of the enclosures with WD-40. Once the files were in, the surfaces were covered. This little step worked slicker than skimming scum off a Louisiana swamp (pardon the pun). But I digress.

Do you know how WD-40 got its name? The developers were looking for a product that could be used in the aerospace industry. They found what they were looking for on their 40th attempt, and the product was great at Water Displacement. Get it? Had the group of engineers not displayed persistence in their efforts, we may not have this wonderful product today.

Persistence is such an important quality. Christ honored this characteristic by responding to persistent followers, and by speaking directly about how persistence should be desired and displayed. Christ commended a Canaanite woman for her persistence in seeking Christ's help for her demon-possessed daughter, "Then Jesus said to her, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.'" (Matthew 15:28)

On another occasion, He spoke about the persistence of a woman who sought justice and used the story as an example of how we should be persistent in our pursuit of issues with the Lord. "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)

Will he indeed find such faith in us? Our persistence in our pursuit of matters before the Lord reveals our faith and leads us to find grace and mercy in our time of need.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May 18, 2021

I don't know if you ever watch "The Voice," but on last night's semi-final show (Monday), Victor Solomon sang an absolutely marvelous arrangement of "I Can Only Imagine." Two years ago, Todd Tilghman won the competition with his rendition of this Mercy Me song. I would imagine you are familiar with the museful nature of "I Can Only Imagine."

From time to time, we do wonder about the nature of heaven, don't we? And I hope that folks watching "The Voice" are listening to the message in these songs and not just marveling at the performance. Heaven is real.

The apostle Paul spoke many times of the wonders of heaven. He knew he had work to do here on earth, but he longed for his heavenly home. It is no surprise that he longed for heaven in the way he did as he was privileged to be given a glimpse of heaven's reality.

We read Paul's description of his experience in II Corinthians 12:2-6, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say." Paul was keenly aware that the only reason he had this experience, and the only reason he had the hope he would be going there to stay at some future time, was the amazing grace of God. "For by grace we are saved" he writes in Ephesians 2:8.

Another individual who had this same awareness was John Newton. Newton wrote that among the surprises that await us in heaven will be the wonder that we are even there. The converted slave-dealer, who wrote the universally loved hymn "Amazing Grace," perceptively foresaw what every person who has been redeemed by Christ's atoning sacrifice will feel. He wrote, "the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there!" Don't you imagine that this will be true? Paul and Newton both understood the only reason for their presence in heaven was the Amazing Grace of God!

Don't ever lose sight of this truth. We need to be grateful for God's grace, and the hope we have because of God's grace. Paul gave us a glimpse of heaven; Newton gave us a perspective about heaven; God gives us his grace as a means of entering heaven. "I Can Only Imagine" what it will be, and I know I will be there only because of God's "Amazing Grace."

Pastor Steve
Monday May 17, 2021

"Go ahead - try it just this once. That couldn't be that bad, that couldn't be a real problem." This is a voice within us we hear at times. We are tempted to do something "just this once." Sometimes it may not be a bad thing - like taking a thrill ride, or going bungee jumping. But often that voice within is us calling on us to do something "just this once" that is not a good thing. We are confronted with opportunities to do something we know we shouldn't and it looks so tempting. Visiting that internet porn sight "just this once" wouldn't be that bad, would it? Slipping a few dollars from the office discretionary fund "just this once" isn't really a terrible thing, is it? Telling this little white lie "just this once" is not going to be a big thing, is it?

All of these situations are examples of those "one time" incidents that we may not think are harmful, but could actually lead to life-long consequences.

David's sin with Bathsheba led to issues the rest of his life. The writer of Psalm 19 13 said, "Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression." The writer knew that "little sins" can lead to greater problems. They can take control of our lives. Don't let that take place - avoid those "just this once" situations.

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 16, 2021

We never seem to get caught up, do we? As Lewis Carroll wrote in "Alice in Wonderland,", "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." This does nothing but increase our level of frustration. And it seems that technological advances are not doing much to alleviate our frustration level - actually, the more we advance, it seems the more frustrated we become (see the Carroll quote above).

There is a great solution to this - make sure our focus in on God, not the world. We need to live life through the wisdom of God, not the expectations of humankind. This was what Solomon was telling us in Ecclesiastes. He tells us, "And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (4:4) Trying to outdo others is part of our problem.

Another problem is sitting around doing nothing (4:5). A final problem is our lack of satisfaction with what we have, "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind." (4:6)

Much of our frustration is created by ourselves when we pursue things we think we want and don't stop to think about what we have. We need to put God's perspective into our lives, and let his thoughts determine what is important. Put God at the center of your life and be thankful for what he has given you. What he has for you is all you really need.

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 15, 2021

It is graduation time here in our community. We have students moving up to another level of their educational pursuits as they move into the high school training ground. There are students leaving high school to pursue educational and vocational goals. College graduates have come to the goal they have been pursuing for most of their lives. All along the way, there were teachers, counselors, administrators, and support staff who worked together to build into the lives of these young people so they might develop personally and prepare to contribute to the lives of others. Each of these mentors occupied a certain segment of the process - they took over from others who had been invested in the lives of the students earlier and then prepared them for what was ahead. In the majority of cases, folks involved in this process will never actually witness the "finished product," but are still committed to do what needs to be done to train young lives for the future.

Those involved in the process are like the craft people who create fine musical instruments. Luis Antonio Rojas, who played double bass for the Mexico City Philharmonic, describes the process of creating a worthy instrument: "You must age the wood for 80 years, then play the instrument for 80 years before it reaches its best sound. A craftsman must use wood cut and aged by someone else, and he will never see any instrument reach its peak during his own lifetime." Isn't this an apt description of the educational process?

This process not only takes place in our schools and society, but takes place in our churches. We need to be committed to this educational model knowing that we may never see the "end product," but realizing how important it is to be committed to this process. We need to train others to carry on what has been done before and needs to be continued. This is why God said, "Now this is the commandment--the statutes and the ordinances--that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long." When it comes to training others, we must be committed to the process in spite of the fact that we may never see the finished product.

Pastor Steve
Friday May 14, 2021

As I wrote my article yesterday about a past harvest, thoughts about the current planting season came to mind. For there to be a harvest, there needs to be some planting. There has been and will be this year, but it has been challenging. Our spring has been cold and wet - conditions that are not conducive for planting crops. Farmers look for a window of opportunity to get crops planted, and when one opens, they take advantage of the time, knowing that they need to "make hay while the sun shines."

This is a statement that is true of our lives. We need to look at our lives as a window of opportunity that at some point will close. We should take advantage of the "dry conditions" while we can as there will be a time when conditions will change. This is a characteristic of life in general, and is also true with regard to specific opportunities that come our way at certain times in our lives.

Spending time with our kids is one example of a "window of opportunity." Parents need to enjoy and spend time with their children while they can. Kids grow up and become adults (now that was an earth-shattering revelation, wasn't it?). We need to take advantage of job opportunities. We need to be good stewards of our finances as there will be a time when our earning ability is not there. I could go on and on with examples. Paul gives this advice, "Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity." (Ephesians 5:16)

As I said, this refers to our lives in general as well. We only have so much time on earth. Have you prepared for the time when you will leave? An example of how not to live is found in Luke 12:16:21, "The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God."

Make sure you take advantage of the window of opportunity you have been given. Accept the Gift that God has for you in Jesus so that you will be ready when the window of opportunity closes.

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 13, 2021

Many years ago I drove by a nearby grain elevator with a friend from another country who was visiting. There had been an abundant harvest that year, and the elevator was having to pile up the excess grain on the ground and cover it with large tarps as best they could. My friend asked me what was going on, and when I told him, he said, "Oh, I wish I could have that in my country."

We do live in a country of abundance and often what we simply view as normal with regard to what we have and what we possess would be thought of as great wealth in other areas of the world. We who have been entrusted with so much, even though we may not consider it a great abundance, should be willing to share what we have with those who don't have.

Paul told Timothy what he should tell the people at Ephesus, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." (I Timothy 6:17-18)

We need to be willing to share. Those who have an abundance have been given a great responsibility. Handling riches requires great wisdom. Share what you have with those who don't have.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May May 12, 2021

I have always enjoyed riding motorcycles. I was never an avid rider, and I haven't ridden in quite a while, but when I did, I had a blast. One of the challenges of riding a motorcycle in knowing how to take a curve. Sometimes newer riders get themselves in trouble because they tend to fixate on a stationary object when they are riding through a curve. This causes a couple of problems. First, it makes it hard to judge your speed accurately. Secondly, the motorcycle tends to go in the direction you are looking, so this means if you are looking intently at a tree, you could end up hitting the tree. What needs to be done is to turn your head a bit so that you can look at the road through the curve as much as possible. This takes care of the problem of judging the speed, and then you will be able to see possible obstacles much more quickly. You need to look ahead to where you want to go.

We need to do this in our lives. We need to look ahead to where we want to go. Often we encounter curves that require us to adjust our vision so that we can see as far as possible to make sure we keep going the right way.

Nehemiah did this as he approached the obstacle of rebuilding the wall. He continued to look ahead at the goal of the rebuilding rather than focus on the stationary objects surrounding him that would keep the people from finishing the task. After his initial inspection of the condition of the wall, he said to the people, "You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace." (Nehemiah 2:17) He looked ahead to the completion, rather than focus on the obstacle of repairing the damage. When he faced opposition (see chapter 4), he did the same thing. He continued to look ahead rather than focus on the stationary objects around him that would have discouraged the effort.

We need to do the same thing. We need to look ahead so that we will continue on the right path and so that we can see obstacles realistically. We have not been promised an easy ride through life. We know we will encounter curves. By focusing on where we re going and the God who goes before us, rather than the obstacles we face, we ll find that He provides what we need to accomplish the ride.

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May May 11, 2021

In his book, "The Pursuit of God," A.W. Tozer wrote, "Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned not to each other but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become unity-conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship."

Tozer's comments were designed for worship experiences, but what he said is true in all facets of our relationships with others. When we are in tune with Christ and walking with him, it is difficult to find ourselves at odds with others. Turning your focus upon Christ can help avoid much of the petty things that tend to cause friction with others. Developing a rich relationship with Christ helps us to develop our relationships with others and allows us to see the insignificance of our differences with others.

Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 12:12-13, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." When we are connected to the head, then everything else works as it should. Keep in tune with Christ, and you will keep in tune with others!

Pastor Steve
Monday May 10, 2021

After posting my article last Wednesday, I found I had used the wrong one and had to make a quick adjustment to get the correct one. This would not usually be an issue, but there was some "time sensitive" information in that particular post. I then had a rather ironic experience.

After publishing the correct post, I came across a cartoon that someone had put on their timeline which featured two older men sitting on a park bench. The dialogue went something like this: One man says, "Well, it's Monday. You know, before I retired, I didn't like Mondays. Back to work and all that. Now that I'm retired, Monday is just another day!" The reply, "Carl, this is another day. This is Friday."

This may bring a smile to your face for a couple of reasons. First, it's a funny story in and of itself. Secondly, for many of us, it is also something with which we can relate. At times, I do get confused as to what day of the week it is at the present time.

I know someone who would never get confused as to what day it is. God always knows the day and the time. God always does things for us at just the right time. This includes His coming into the world at just the right time. Galatians 4:4 tells us, "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman." Christ died for us at just the right time, "at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (II Corinthians 5:14).

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven." God's timing is always accurate and God's timing is always best. We need to trust him in this, especially at times when it looks as if His timing is off. His timing isn't off - God knows the right time at all times. Isaiah 49:8 gives us this promise, "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you." If you trust God's timing, you won't get confused about what day it is.

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 09, 2021

In reading about Mother s Day once, I found something that surprised me. Towards the end of her life, Anna Jarvis, the lady who had championed the idea of a Mother's Day, became disillusioned with how Mother's Day was being observed. Just before her death in 1923, she said, "I wish I had not thought of a Mother's Day." Why? She felt as if people had lost their focus in their observation of Mother's Day and that the observance had become too commercial. Sound familiar?

Whether or not this was true about Mother's Day, it does show a flaw that exists within our character about which we should be aware. We can easily lose our focus upon that which is important and go after "rabbit trails," or even follow a path that is detrimental to our lives. We see so many examples of this in scripture. We see so many people who forget their spiritual heritage and then focus on something that is contrary to true belief in God.

Take Ahaz for example. We read about him in II Kings 16. Ahaz became king of Judah when he was 20. His father Jotham had been a godly king, as was his grandfather Uzziah. However, Ahaz forgot his godly heritage and "did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God. . .But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel (16:2-3)." We are not sure why he changed, but one thing we can say with certainly is that he lost his focus. As a result, he was a failure. The rest of chapter 16 tells of his struggles and his continued wrong doing. He cultivated unholy worship and made unwise political alliances. All because he forgot his heritage and lost his focus.

Don't forget that we have the same tendency. We can easily forget our spiritual heritage, our need to follow God, and lose our focus. If this happens, we will indeed fail. I feel for Anna Jarvis, and what took place with the day she championed shows the tendency of humans. Buck the trend - stay true to God!

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 08, 2021

One way that firefighters attempt to extinguish a wild fire is by setting back fires. The strategy is to use these controlled fires to burn out the areas ahead of an uncontrolled blaze so that when this latter blaze gets to the already burned out area, it too will burn out because of a lack of fuel. Now, this idea of "fighting fire with fire" might be a good thing to do when trying to control wild fires, but it is not a good idea in other areas.

If we try to fight "fire with fire" in our relationships, we will do more harm than good. When we use anger to counter anger, or answer an unkindness with an unkindness, or answer hatred with hatred, we make matters worse and are ignoring what Christ taught us. In Luke 6:27-31, we read his words, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

Fighting fire with fire has its place, but not in our relationships with other people. Treat others as you want to be treated, Christ said. This is a much more desirable means of handling interpersonal "fires" that often come up. Use your reservoirs of grace to put out the flames of anger when there is a flare-up. This is a better way of "fire-fighting."

Pastor Steve
Friday May 07, 2021

Dwight D. Eisenhower experienced the winding, narrow roads of Europe during World War II, as he made plans to move troops, equipment, and supplies from one place to another. So, when he became president, he used these experiences to persuade Congress to pass the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 leading to the construction of our present-day interstate highways.

Can you imagine what travel by automobile would be like had this not been done? Well, some of us can remember what travel was like before interstates; however, there weren't nearly as many vehicles then as there are now. A way was prepared for future access.

This is what we need to be doing as followers of Christ. We need to be preparing access for others to find Christ. It was said of John the Baptist that he was the "voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" (Matthew 3:3) We need to be doing this as well. We need to do what we can to level out the roads, take down the mountains, build bridges over obstacles, and whatever else needs to be done so that others may see the way to Christ. How are you doing in your spiritual engineering?

Pastor Steve
Thursday May 06, 2021

Each Sunday in our morning worship, we pray the Lord's Prayer. Praying the prayer, we ask the Father to "Give us this day our daily bread." When we ask him this, we are asking for provision for the day. We are asking for guidance for the day. We are asking for illumination for the day. When Christ prayed "give us this day our daily bread," he was putting emphasis on a crucial concept in our spiritual lives - we must trust God day by day. We only know the moment in our lives. What is past is past. We don't know the reality of moments to come, or even if they will come at all. We must trust God with the events of the now, and we rely upon him to provide for the now.

In the day when Christ lived, most did now know from day to day what provision would be there for them. Work opportunities, what was available to eat, goods that were available, were usually available for that day, with no guarantees for the next. But, what else did you need? If you have what you need for today, there was no cause to worry about tomorrow, as tomorrow would bring new provisions.

When God provides for us, it is for our daily needs. We are not able to see beyond today's provision to know what will be done about tomorrow. However, when the needs of today are met, why worry about what might happen tomorrow? God has provided for today, he can provide for tomorrow as well, so leave that detail in the hands of God. This is called faith. When God provided for his people when they were wandering in Sinai, he provided their daily bread through manna. There were strict regulations about gathering more than what you needed for the day, except on the eve of the Sabbath. God ordered this circumstance to show the people he could be entrusted to provide for their "daily bread."

We need to trust God for our daily bread, and realize that tomorrow is to be left up to him. Jesus tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34)." Trust God for your daily bread, leave tomorrow in God's hands.

Pastor Steve
Wednesday May 05, 2021

Today is Cinco de Mayo. This is celebrated as a holiday in Mexico and by many in the United States, although many do not know why. Some think this is Mexico s Independence Day, but that is not the case. This is a celebration of the Mexican Army's defeat of invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The Mexican Army was led very capably by General Zaragoza, and turned back the French who were intent on occupying Mexico City and taking over the entire country.

As stated earlier, many people of Mexican descent living in the United States celebrate today as well. However, it may be a day that should be celebrated by the all of the U.S. Why? Well, the French, under the command of General Napoleon III, had more than Mexico in mind. They wanted to create a means of supplying the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. Had they been successful, who knows what might have happened? They had invaded Mexico under the pretense of wanting to collect Mexican debts to France, but they had an ulterior motive because of Napoleon III's hatred of the U.S. Deception was at the heart of the French effort.

This should not be too surprising. Deception has played a huge part in human events throughout history. We as believers face an enemy who is the Master of deception. Satan s trickery is what causes us to constantly be on the alert. Paul comments on this is II Corinthians 11:13-14, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."

We need to be aware of Satan s propensity to used disguises and deception to trick us into doing and believing things that are not true. How do you avoid these? The best offense is a good defense, a coach once said, and that is true in our Christian life. Know the Word, continue fellowship with other Believers, exercise your prayer life, and you will be prepared for this deceit. Say, since today is a holiday, official or not, let's celebrate our independence in Christ! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Pastor Steve
Tuesday May 04, 2021

I am always impressed when a store employee actually takes me to what I am looking for when I ask where to find something rather than just pointing out the correct aisle. Now, I don't actually expect this, and I am not disappointed when this doesn't take place; I just am really grateful when it does.

As I think about this, it reminds me about the outlook I should have as a follower of Christ who would like to see others embrace the truth of Christianity. Since this is the case, I need to be willing to do more than just vaguely gesture in the general direction of Christ. I need to be willing to spend the time to walk along the way with others and do what I can to show them the way. Now, it is not up to me to do the convicting, and it is not up to me to do the convincing, but it is indeed my role to be a guide to others to help them find the right path.

When some inquisitive disciples expressed an interest in Christ's work, Christ said to them, "'Come,' he replied, 'and you will see.'" (John 1:39) Later when Philip's testimony was met with a skeptical response from Nathanael, Philip replied, "Come and see." (1:46) We should be willing to walk with others to help them come to belief in Christ. When others express a desire to know more about Christ, we need to be willing to say "Let me take you there!"

Pastor Steve
Monday May 03, 2021

Most folks are really concerned with cleanliness which, in most cases can be stated as a normal desire. This has been even truer over the past year because of our battle with COVID-19. For a time, there was a shortage of cleaning solutions and hand sanitizer because of the demand. That problem has been remedied. I saw a sign at a local store recently offering a "buy one, get one free" on sanitizer.

Cleanliness is an important matter - according to someone, "cleanliness is next to godliness." The thing about cleanliness is that if you really want to be clean, you will be constantly working to maintain the desired state. That which is clean usually won't remain that way and effort needs to be spent to restore the clean.

There is one area where all the effort in the world cannot restore cleanliness. You can't get your life as clean as it needs to be to be in your relationship with God. That is a big problem - but one that God takes care of through the provision of his Son.

David asked God to "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . .Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:2 & 7) Only God can get you as clean as you need to be. Don't obsess over this, just seek God's forgiveness and trust in His Son. When you do this, you will be "whiter than snow."

Pastor Steve
Sunday May 02, 2021

Herbert Vander Lugt writes about Pat Fillmore: "Pat Fillmore has been a pioneer missionary in Irian Jaya for 40 years. She taught people to read and brought them medications and medical techniques. She maintained airstrips, built septic systems, and repaired generators and appliances. In addition, she established and managed a quality Bible school, and translated parts of the Bible and many study courses into the language of the people to whom she ministered."

Those are some significant accomplishments! You've surely heard of Pat Fillmore, haven't you? If you have, great, but I must say that I hadn't heard about her until I read Mr. Vander Lugt's article. There are so many people who have many great accomplishments, yet we never know about them. There have been many of these people throughout history - there are many even now who fit into this category.

Sometimes we feel like we may be laboring in a "vacuum" as what we do goes unheralded. Keep a healthy attitude about what you do. On the one hand, don't feel like what you are doing is "insignificant" because you don't attract a lot of attention and on the other hand don't feel like you need to be "noticed." Put yourself in the shoes of Paul's anonymous colleagues he refers to in Philippians 4:3, "the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." Who are these people? Well, we don't know. However, God does - and that is what matters. What we do for God does not go unnoticed by God. Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

Always keep in mind we are serving God. This helps keep the "attention" factor in perspective.

Pastor Steve
Saturday May 01, 2021

Well, today is the first of May. We sometimes call this May Day. There are a number of holidays in various countries associated with this day. So, it is a significant date on our calendar. Of course, there is another kind of May Day, the mayday distress signal that is used in air, sea and boating emergencies.

According to Wikipedia, the Mayday call sign was originated in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford. A senior radio officer at Croydan Airport in London, Mockford was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word "Mayday" from the French m'aider.

There are times in our lives when may feel like sending out a mayday signal. We feel like things are crashing down around us, we are trying to hang on as best we can, we feel like the waves are crashing in over the bow of our boat. Rest assured - our mayday signals are heard by God. He is there for us in the crisis events of our lives. Psalm 46:1-3 reminds us, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Your mayday signals are not falling on deaf ears - God hears you and knows your distress. He will not let you keep flailing around helplessly. God will not fail you!

Pastor Steve

Activities

Weekly Schedule

Sun
AM Worship - 9:00 AM
Sun
Sunday School - 10:30 AM
Sun
PM Worship - 6:00 PM
Wed
Dinner - 5:45 PM
Wed
Cross Training - 6:30 PM
Sat
Prayer Time - 9:00 AM

Schedule


Our Pastor

Pastor Steve Willis

Stephen G. Wllis has been the pastor of the First Baptist Church since August of 1983. He and his wife, the former Scherry Roth, are natives of Ironton, OH and were married in 1977. Steve has an A.B. in education from Marshall University in Huntington, WV and a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. In October 2004 he received his Doctor of Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary. He has been active in ministry since 1971, serving as an evangelist and as a pastor before moving to Dallas in 1979 and then to the pastorate in Newton after obtaining his master's degree. In addition to his ministerial duties, Steve is a member of several committees and boards in Jasper County. He has served as president of the Jasper County Ministerial Association and Newton Rotary, and is currently the secretary-treasurer of the ministerial association.

Scherry is a graduate of ITT with certification in interior design. In Ohio she worked as a secretary and then with the Ohio Department of Health and Human Services. She was a secretary in Dallas at Dallas Theological Seminary. After moving with Steve to Newton, she took some time away from the workplace to have two daughters, Stephanie, born in 1983 and Megan, born in 1985. When both the girls were in school, Scherry returned to the workplace, first at Arndt's Stores, then as a painter with Hidden Blessings, and since 1994, as a secretary for the Jasper County Unit #1 School District. She retired in June of 2016. She is active in the church as leader of the Children's Choirs and directing the adult choir.

Megan graduated from Judson University, Elgin, IL in December of 2007, and received her ThM from Edinburgh University (Scotland) in August of 2008. She married Casey Robbins in February of 2014, and they have one child, Sullivan. She also teaches English at Williamsfield High School.

Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Illinois (2005) and received a master's degree from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, in May of 2007. She is now a speech pathologist with Southern Ohio Educational Services in Portsmouth, Ohio. She married Jimmy Bailey in July of 2009. Jimmy is a teacher and coach with the New Boston, Ohio, School District. They live in Wheelersburg, OH. They have two children, Madelyn and Cullen.


Invitation

For those of you not currently attending church on a regular basis we would like to extend an invitation to you. Regular church attendance can make a big difference in your life. Worshiping God, learning more about Him and enjoying fellowship with other Christians is a very rewarding way to spend Sunday morning. Our service at the First Baptist Church starts at 9:00 AM and we hope you will join us soon. You will be greeted by some of the friendliest people in downstate Illinois. If you sometimes feel that there is something missing in your life this could be a great opportunity to fill that void. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Through faith in Him, the void you have can be filled. He said in Matthew 11:32 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

A good way to find out what you need to do to place your faith in Him is to find a church where you can learn what it means to have a relationship with Christ and what that can mean to you. If you are too far away from our location, please try to find a church near by. It can change your life. If you would like to invite Christ to come into your heart as your Savior and Lord, you may do so by simply asking him to do so. Here is what you can do to receive the free gift of eternal life he offers:

1. Acknowledge that you have sinned and need to be forgiven.
Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 - "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. Believe that Jesus died for you and wants to forgive you and give you the free gift of eternal life.
John 6:47 - "I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."
3. Confess your sins to him and ask him to come into your heart as your Savior.
Romans 10:9-10 - "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

If you are now enjoying all the benefits of being part of a church family, wherever it might be, we offer you a challenge. In your community there are people waiting for you to extend an invitation to them. We urge you to find them, invite them to your church and show them how a relationship with Jesus can enrich their lives. The Word of God ends with an invitation. Revelation 22:17 says, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Be an inviting person!

Our Church

Welcome to the internet home of the First Baptist Church, located at 400 W. Washington Street in Newton IL. This church was established in January of 1886 as the Newton Baptist Church. The first pastor was J.W Reed who served until 1891 and again from 1896 to 1898. The first meetings were held at the Presbyterian Church until 1892 when it was decided to build a new church. The actual construction was started in 1893 and completed in 1895. The first services in the new building were on April 27th. In 1957 a new educational wing and fellowship hall were added.

The name of the church was changed from "Newton Baptist Church" to "First Baptist Church" on July 25th, 1926. The church has had 31 pastors since its inception including our current pastor, Dr. Steve Willis who has served since 1983.

Our mission is to delight God by developing a church full of people whose integrity is beyond question, whose faith is beyond reason, and whose compassion is beyond compare.

Services at First Baptist start at 9:00 am every Sunday morning followed by Sunday school at 10:30. Our Sunday evening service starts at 6:00 and CrossTraining Bible study is held each Wednesday at 6:30. From September to May, we have CrossTraining classes on Wednesdays for ages 3 through the 8th grade. Our High School group is entitled CIA (Christians in Action) and meets on the first and third Sundays at 6 p.m.

We would like to invite you to join us next Sunday. You will find us to be a very friendly family of believers that loves our Lord and truly enjoys our Sunday morning fellowship.

Deacons

Brad Tarr * Adam Wolf * Tyler Ghast * David Stankus * Sam White