I have been meditating on the quote below from John R. W. Stott about human suffering. It has comforted me to be reminded that when we suffer, we do not face it alone. Christ knows, Christ sympathizes, and Christ is present.
I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our suffering becomes more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering.
Stott, John R. W. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986. 335-36. Print.
Batts, Michael E. Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service. Atlanta, Ga: Accountability Press in Cooperation with Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, 2011.
Our congregation has a board of trustees which oversees the legal affairs of our church. These are all godly and wise members who are elected by the congregation to focus on the overall mission, vision, strategy, and policy of our church to ensure we are operating within those guidelines and legal parameters. They know they are responsible to the congregation, to the community, and to the church staff for wise counsel and oversight. They are ultimately responsible to the Lord. While the board does not manage the day-to-day operations of the church, it does ensure we are doing things decently and in order. I meet with the board regularly to share the financial reports of the church, the initiatives the church is adopting, the risks the church may face or need to avoid, and the implementation or development of appropriate policies and procedures. I have an excellent relationship with the board because they love the church, believe in the mission and strategy of the church, and because they take their role as board members seriously.
We have conducted board member orientation in the past using various methods whereby we discuss our philosophy of ministry, the by-laws, doctrinal statement, articles of incorporation, and the job description of the board. However, I have found a wonderful book that I will begin using this year for orientation. It will give more direction and consistency to our established orientation procedures. The book was given to me when I became a member of the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist Convention. The book is titled, "Board Member Orientation: The Concise and Complete Guide to Nonprofit Board Service," by Michael E. Batts. The author "is a CPA and the managing shareholder of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, P.A., an Orlando-based CPA firm dedicated exclusively to serving nonprofit organizations and their affiliates" (p. 85). He has also served on various boards for 25 years. He writes from experience and with expertise.
The book covers the major responsibilities and guidlines for board service. It is written in a clear and concise way (only 85 pages) that is accessible to everyone. The book is designed to be read by the individual board members in preparation for discussion and review as a group. Each chapter concludes with an executive recap. The last chapter offers a three-step process for conducting board member orientation:
Each member reads the first nine chapters.
You provide each member with the documents of your organization as listed in chapter 10.
You meet and discuss the unique role of your organization. Chapter 10 includes helpful discussion questions to guide the meeting.
I have purchased a copy for each of my board members and will follow this process. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition at very affordable prices.
I highly recommend this book to seasoned and new board members, alike. It will make board member orientation easy, clear and helpful. Members will serve with greater confidence and skill after reading this book.
“We envision a church where unchurched people love to attend. Our mission is to help people love God, love others, and serve the world. We do this by creating environmentswhere people are encouraged and equipped to pursue, intimacy with God, community with believers, and ministry to others.”
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul (Matthew 22:37-38). We seek to help people express their love for God through our congregational times of worship. We present biblical and practical teaching, uplifting singing, and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere for people to connect with God. We offer contemporary worship experiences (9:30 & 10:45 a.m.), as well as a traditional worship experience (8:00 a.m.). We also seek to create an environment for worship so you can be comfortable inviting your family and friends to our services. It is our desire that unchurched people you invite will want to come back and take a next step in their spiritual journey. Three essential ingredients for us accomplishing our goal are appealing settings (physical environment, first impressions, parking, preschool through student space, etc.), engaging presentations (from the pulpit all the way down to the preschool department), and helpful content (teaching that is both biblical and helpful for life). Our goal is for people to experience intimacy with God.
Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Life was never meant to be lived alone. God formed us for relationships. He designed us for connection. We seek to help people experience Christian community through small groups we call, "LifeGroups." We believe life-change happens better in circles than in rows. It is in a LifeGroup that our large church becomes small; neighbors get to know one another; friendships are formed; pastoral ministry is multiplied. LifeGroups enable you to find the people and the perspective to savor the highs, survive the lows, and share the points in-between. LifeGroups are the heartbeat of our congregation! Our strategy is to continually connect people to groups. Now that space is becoming more limited on our campus, and because many people want to serve on Sunday without having to give up their group, I have instructed Pastor John Shultz to begin more off-campus groups. Right now approximately 100 people enjoy a group in homes during the week. I envision hundreds more people in off-campus LifeGroups in the next five years. Our goal is for people to experience authentic community.
Jesus sent His followers into the world with the mission of sharing God's love through the Good News that Jesus is the Savior (Matthew 28:19-20), and through acts of service to people in need (Matthew 22:39). Our members are challenged with opportunities to serve, pray, and give through practical ministries that make our community and world a better place. Whether it is helping out in a local school, feeding the homeless in a local soup kitchen, or working in our orphanage in Haiti, our members are selflessly serving the world. Through the financial contributions of our members we are able to support missionaries and ministries that truly change the lives of people in Jacksonville and beyond. We want to make it easier for you to serve, pray, and give. Our goal is for people to experience ministry to others.
Colson, Charles W., and Nancy Pearcey. Developing a Christian Worldview of the Problem of Evil. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001. Print.
This book is based on the best selling book, How Now Shall We Live? It is the second of three works that present the Christian worldview in contrast to competing views. The book deals with the problem of evil and suffering. It is designed to be accessible to the layman through individual study or group study. Some of the questions the authors seek to answer include: What is wrong with our world? What is wrong with us? How do other worldviews answer these questions? Why are they flawed? Does the Christian worldview make the most sense out of reality?
I have only read the first three of fifteen chapters, but I am enjoying the book. Everyone has to wrestle with the question of evil, at one time or the other. Colson and Pearcey provide a helpful presentation of the Christian worldview. This would be a great study for our church groups.
Over the last few weeks, our church Finance Team has considered selling one of our church buses. We rarely need both buses at the same time. Plus, we needed to upgrade to newer buses designed for our needs when traveling long distances.
On a recent youth trip, one of the tires went out. While the tire was being repaired, one of the technicians asked if we would ever consider selling the bus. He informed our staff that he was a member of a brand-new church that wanted to reach their community for Jesus. They needed a bus to go around their community to pick up children for Sunday School and church. They were told we were considering selling the bus and we would be happy to talk to them if they were interested and if the bus would only be used for local trips. After they looked at the bus, they offered us $4,000 to purchase it. It was going to be a financial stretch for them, but they needed this tool. Their offer was taken back to the Fort Caroline Baptist Church Finance Team for consideration.
It was at this time that John Shultz and I had the same idea. We felt impressed of the Lord to donate the bus to this new church rather than sell it. After prayer, the Finance Team unanimously agreed. I called the pastor and told him that after considering his offer, we had decided that we could not sell them the church bus. He said he understood and appreciated our consideration. I was able to then tell him, “Pastor, we are not going to sell you the bus, we are going to give it to you!” He was so thrilled and humbled at how God had provided for their church need!
This is just another example of our church’s commitment to our mission to love God, love others, and serve the world. For us, it was not about the money. It was about investing in God’s kingdom. So today, the Browntown Baptist Church in Kingsland, Georgia, has a church bus going around the community picking up boys and girls to learn about Jesus. You had a part in that! Through the church you love and serve, we are able to bless others. May God be glorified in all things.
Thank you for your continued financial support, involvement, and prayers. And thank you for helping us to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ here and around the world.
My friend, Geoff Shattock, wrote a moving tribute to my late father-in-law, Sam Jacobs. My emotions would not permit me to read this at the service today, so I share it here.
It’s not easy to be a man A father or a son There is no blueprint Scheme or plan No race that can be won Perhaps you simply make it up Take it steps in time Follow in your father footprints Drink from ancient cup Try to make it rhyme Looking to your God above You strain to hear your call Get it right or get it wrong Covering all with love You raise and take your fall Four offsprung is a legacy A chance to leave a mark Indelibly inscribed with care Through agony and ecstasy In lightness over dark So your time has come to leave No stage craft or false make ups Just authentic scripts and lines Dignified reprise Farewell good man Sam Jacobs
---From Geoff who never met you but saw your legacy
The faithfulness of a church is not measured in how many ministry visits a pastor makes, but in how many people he equips for ministry.
"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT)
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