Sunrise Over Pensacola

Early this morning as I was driving to our campus, the beautiful fall sunrise gradually emerging over Pensacola Bay reminded me how the grace of God can gradually dawn on a pre-Christian enabling them to realize God’s forgiveness, to experience God’s grace, and to begin an unending journey of following Jesus.

Our mission as a congregation is to glorify God, to love one another, and to proclaim the message of Jesus. As we embrace the challenges and opportunities of the coming days, every ministry of our church has the ultimate goal of nurturing others toward a deeper journey of following Jesus.

Throughout the month of October, our worship services have emphasized the theme “Practicing the Purposes” as we have highlighted the five purposes of the church. The first Sunday we reflected on “Coming Back to the Heart of Worship.” The second Sunday we focused on Fellowship as “Connecting with the Family of Faith.” The third Sunday we concentrated on Discipleship as we talked about “Getting Our Souls in Tune.” And last Sunday, Dr. Lankford creatively led us to probe the question, “What is Evangelism?”

This week we will tie the purposes together with a message on Ministry entitled “A Fitness Plan for the Body of Christ.”

Visiting Our "Ole Kentucky Home"

When most people think of Kentucky they think of the legendary Daniel Boone, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, bluegrass music, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or Wildcat basketball. Amanda and I have fond memories of a beautiful state that was once our home and hospitable people who were once our neighbors.

The lyrics to the famous folk song claim, “The sun shines bright on my ole Kentucky home.” Amanda and I have been blessed to have positive experiences and long-term friendships in every church and community where we have served. Consequently, the churches we have served have been kind to invite us back periodically for significant events and special occasions. For almost eight years, it was my privilege to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Corbin, Kentucky. This Sunday, it will be our privilege to return to Corbin for a worship service and reception in our honor. During our years in Kentucky, this unique and courageous congregation encouraged us, challenged us, and cared for us. We look forward to a brief reunion with treasured friends and long-time partners in ministry.

This Sunday morning at First Baptist Pensacola, we continue our journey through the five purposes of the church as Dr. Ross Lankford shares a message on evangelism, offering practical insight on how we communicate our faith with others. Then, on Sunday evening, we will gather in Pleitz Chapel at six o’clock where the theme will be Discovering Our Ministries. Some of our ministry coordinators will share highlights of the various ministry opportunities at First Baptist Church.

As we work toward strengthening our ministry muscles, our deacons will be participating in a Deacon Ministry Workshop on November 4. Ordination for our newly elected deacons is scheduled for Sunday evening, November 5. Bob Gowing has been chosen as deacon chair elect and will join current deacon chair, Scott Bell, in providing excellent leadership for our deacons during the coming year.

Invite a friend to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study this Sunday.

Standing on the Promises…Practicing the Purposes

When we build our lives around the promises of scripture and we build our ministry around the purposes of the church, good things begin to happen. At First Baptist, we are making new friends, welcoming new members, and sharing new adventures.

October begins a new fiscal year for our church. In the 2005-2006 church year, your tithes and offerings exceeded our projected budget by $188,000. In addition to the mission partners in our budget, you gave more than $300,000 to mission offerings to be used in Florida, Mississippi, and around the world. Thank you for your faithfulness in giving to the Lord through the missions and ministries of our church. As we strive to be good stewards of our blessings, we look forward to surpassing our Ministry Action Budget goal of $3,483,000 in 2006-2007.

During the month of October our worship services are built around the theme “Practicing the Purposes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Evangelism, and Ministry.” On October 1 we talked about “Coming Back to the Heart of Worship.” On October 8 we focused on the importance of “Connecting with the Family of Faith.” Next Sunday, October 15, we will be invited to a journey of discipleship as we are “Getting Your Soul in Tune.”

Both Escambia County and Santa Rosa County Schools have Fall Break weeks in October, which means that many of our families are traveling at some point during this month. If you and your family have an opportunity to travel, please travel safely and enjoy a wholesome time of rest and recreation.

This week take the initiative to invite a friend or neighbor to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study.

"Pardon Our Dust"

A few years ago while visiting a hospital in a major city I saw a sign entering a construction zone that read, “Pardon Our Dust: This area is under renovation so that we might serve you better. Thank you for your cooperation.”

The fence is up, the dumpster has arrived, the POD is in place and pre-construction work is beginning on the former Christian Activities Center. During the next several months, we will be asking guests and members alike to “pardon our dust” as we renovate and expand the CAC into the Paul Royal Recreation and Outreach Center.

Construction may indicate progress but the dust, delays, and detours dirty our vehicles, alter our schedules, and test our patience. For the next few months, many individuals and classes will be called upon to alter their usual routine until construction is complete. Our education building will be more crowded as our high school students meet temporarily in Chipley Hall and our Vietnamese Fellowship meets temporarily on the 4th floor.

Here are ways you can help make our season of construction more pleasant:
1) Arrive a little early and park in the East parking areas off of Guillemar if you are under 70. This will allow those 70 and over, and those with mobility concerns, to park in the upper parking lots by the Atrium and near the YMCA.
2) Admire the progress from a distance and avoid entering the construction area.
3) Invite friends to attend with you and share with them about our construction and our plans for the ROC.
4) Pray for those construction workers on our campus that the coming months will be accident free.
5) Exercise patience. Almost every worthwhile project encounters unexpected challenges and delays.
Hopefully in August or September of next year we will be dedicating the ROC, but until then, pardon our dust.