Setting Your Pace

Spring is here and summer is on the way. For many of us, the warmer seasons mean an increase in activities. If we are not careful, we can become physically exhausted and spiritually empty. How can we manage our calendars and set our pace so that our lives do not merely consist of frantic and frenzied busyness? Consider these suggestions for regulating your pace:

*Designate daily quiet times for prayer, meditation, and reflection.
*Determine to say “no” to some good things in order to say “yes” to some better things.
*Decide to be where you are mentally and spiritually, rather than mentally jumping ahead to your next stop or your next appointment.
*Discover the sights, sounds, opportunities, and people you would otherwise bypass if you zipped by in a hurry.

Time is a God-given gift to be invested wisely and never wasted trivially. But one of the wisest investments of time is to re-think and revise how we spend it. In Ken Gire’s book, Windows of the Soul, he offers a “A Prayer for Solitude” that expresses our desire for the right pace and the right perspective:

Help me, O God,

To be a still axis in the wheel of activities that revolves around my life
Deliver me from distractions, which are many,
and lead me to a quiet place of devotion at your feet.
Teach me how to pause at more windows.
I know I won’t see everything,
but help me see something.
So much passes me by
without attention, let alone, appreciation;
without reflection, let alone, reverence;
without thought, let alone, thankfulness.
Slow me down, Lord, so that I may see the windows in roller rinks
and the overarching grandeur of your image
in the Sistine Chapel of the soul…

May the Lord grant us a place to serve and a pace that will keep us serving, learning, and growing for the rest of our lives.

International Vespers This Sunday Evening

A few weeks ago we welcomed Dr. Minh Lam as the new pastoral leader of our Vietnamese Fellowship. In a short period of time, Dr. and Mrs. Lam have been embraced by our English-speaking members and our Vietnamese-speaking members.

In addition to leading in worship, discipleship, and evangelism with our Vietnamese Fellowship, Dr. Lam also works with our team of ministers in providing pastoral care and participating in hospital visitation.

This Sunday evening at six o’clock in the sanctuary our Vietnamese Fellowship will join with our English speaking congregation for a unique experience of worship. Dr. Lam will be preaching. We will share the Lord’s Supper and celebrate the baptism of some of the newest members of our church family. Bring the whole family as we participate in this global experience of worship.

On Sunday morning, we will continue our series Following in the Footsteps of Jesus as we ask “How Do You Recognize the Voice of God?”

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

Baby Boom 2007!

Almost every week we are welcoming a new baby into the world and into our church family. There are little bundles of blessings all over our congregation.

During our worship services last Sunday we shared in yet another time of Parent-Child Dedication. As a church family we affirmed a covenant to partner with the parents of our newborns who are committing to raise their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

We also have a growing number of families interested in foster care. If you have an interest in providing a temporary home for children in transition, please contact Don Minton or Jean Ingram to get more information on foster care opportunities.

A few years ago a book was written proposing that It Takes A Village to raise a child. While I agree with the primary thesis, I am convinced that It Takes a Congregation, a healthy and vibrant spiritual community, to raise a child to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

With this growing population of infants and toddlers comes the growing need to for faithful volunteers and workers in the nursery, in Bible study groups, for children’s activities, for summer camp, and for Vacation Bible School. Consider making a commitment to serve in children’s ministries where you can make a difference in the life of the next generation.

Going Global!

Confrontation with the resurrected Christ creates within believers’ hearts a wonder and joy, a feeling that surpasses all emotions! It does not just happen with a fast prayer, but it comes through meditation, studying scripture, prayer and allowing Christ to instruct us.

–Denton Lotz

Dr. and Mrs. Denton Lotz, retiring General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, will be our guests this Sunday morning. Dr. Lotz, a long-time friend of our First Baptist family, will be sharing an update on Baptist work and witness around the globe.

The Baptist World Alliance is one of our many cooperative mission partners. The BWA strategically networks with diverse Baptists around the world in providing training and resources for doing missions and evangelism. The BWA is a fellowship of more than 200 Baptist conventions and unions comprising a membership of more than 36 million baptized believers and a community of more than 110 million Baptists worldwide.

Our First Baptist Family is involved in doing missions locally and globally. As summer approaches, pray for our career missionaries and our volunteer mission teams. Get involved in one of our many local mission opportunities. And consider signing up for one of the upcoming international mission trips.

Other notes:
1)“Experiencing Spiritual Breakthrus” is scheduled for April 20-21.
2) We continue to appreciate your patience and cooperation during the construction phase of the ROC.
3) Remember that we will celebrate Founder’s Day on May 6. Members of the Heritage Club will meet for lunch in Chipley Hall following the mid-morning service.

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

April Showers of Opportunities

Showers of opportunities are raining on our First Baptist family during the month of April. This Sunday, April 8, during each of our morning services we will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ. There are no services scheduled on Sunday evening so that you may celebrate Easter with friends and family. Invite a friend to join you on Easter Sunday as we gather for worship and Bible study.

Next Wednesday, April 11, our midweek topic is “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way.” Ray Moore, T.A. Shell, and Roger Vinson will join me for a panel interview during this stewardship of life emphasis.

On Sunday April 15, we will hear from Dr. Denton Lotz. Dr. Lotz, retiring General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, will be updating us on the witness and work of Baptists around the globe.

We are just two weeks away from “Experiencing Spiritual Breakthrus,” a Bible study experience for all ages which will focus on our need to experience a breakthrough of God’s presence and power in various areas of our lives. This multigenerational seminar is scheduled for Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 and is a part of the Walk Through the Bible Series. Registration forms are available at the designated table in the Atrium or in the church office.

Throughout this week, the cross on the north lawn of our campus has been draped with the various colors of Holy Week. As you prepare for Sunday, remember to bring flowers for the flowering of the cross this Sunday as we highlight the new life we have in the risen Lord.

The wonder of Easter is as real and certain as sunrise. “He lives!” is the very definition of significance. –Calvin Miller

Walk Slowly Through Holy Week

This week is Holy Week. Walk slowly and reflect on the passion of Christ. During this crucial week, I encourage you to join Christians around the world in re-visiting the biblical events and experiences leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Each day of Holy Week is important but at least four days call for deep and disciplined reflection. Palm Sunday is a day to recall the royal welcome and the chorus of praise extended to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday commemorates the washing of disciples’ feet by Jesus as he gave them a new mandate to love and serve. Good Friday is a day to revisit the passion and suffering of Christ on the cross. And Resurrection Sunday, or Easter, is a festive day to celebrate and proclaim that “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed.”

In the book, The Gift of Worship, the author calls Christians to walk slowly and intentionally toward their observance of the resurrection: Holy Week services bring into focus dimensions of discipleship that are missed completely by a simple leap from Palm Sunday to Easter. Worship services which take seriously the truths of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday please God because they challenge a greater commitment and a more comprehensive ministry of compassion among the people of God.

As you journey through Holy Week, reflect on the whole story of the experiences of Jesus. Take time to listen to the diverse voices in the crowd. Hear again the words of Jesus and ponder his days in Jerusalem. Meditate on the injustice of the cross. Marvel again at the mystery of the resurrection.

Holy Week is a great time to participate in worship services at various churches across town. And as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection, invite a friend to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study on Easter Sunday.