SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
Hey Family! I hope you have had a great week thus far. This past Sunday we started our 9:00am service with 95 in attendance. This will allow our church some growth opportunities as this continues to develop. We do know that we could not have combined the two services and had enough room. And, with many of our members out, this is a good sign. We know the numbers will be fluid in the next few months until our members and guests find the right service and Bible study that fits them. There is also a growing KIDS OWN WORSHIP at 10:30am that is an awesome opportunity for our children to grow in their young faith.
This Is Home
We continue in our series that will take us to the end of the year as we talk about God's design for the family, God's design for His church and Home for the Holidays as we celebrate the good news of a Savior, leaving His home and becoming flesh like us to become our Blessed Redeemer! Let's continue to invite and ignite God's church as we move forward into the fall season. Much to be thankful for!
AUGUST 27, 2018
While on assignment in Miami with NAMB, I was amazed at the number of exotic cars I witnessed on the road. It seemed every street had at least one at a traffic light or one parked at a restaurant or condo. Walking with some church planters to dinner one night I saw IT - the RED ONE! The owner exited the car and noticed us - especially me staring at the car - and asked “are you an owner?” I replied “I have the Toyota Avalon Edition, pearl white.”
Then out of the blue.. he asked “ want to sit in it and start it up?” Trying to impress the young guys I guess. Now, here is where my friends and I disagree on my reaction. They will say I jumped five feet in the air and landed on the other side of the car to get to the driver's door. That’s not true... it was about eight feet! In a matter of moments I went from walking down the street to sitting in a Ferrari... and starting it. What a thrill that was.
All that to say.. I see The Church At Liberty Park the same way. When I drive into the parking lot, I feel even more excitement! The church is more precious and more valuable than a car. What hit me is that the car looked good, sounded good, but just sat there idling. It went no where because it was never put in drive to show what it really could do - and that is the church in general. We look good, sound good, but we are in idle. That is why I was passionate on Sunday. I want us to be a Holy Spirit fueled movement of the gospel that will impact Liberty Park and beyond. We are a Ferrari Church! Time to take off!
Let’s take the next few weeks to practice hospitality in our community to invite them to come to the 9:00am service where most people will be new. Finally to our men, we will start our small groups the week of the 16th of September. We will have sign ups on Sunday the 9th. Be a part of building community within our community. This will be one of the most important things we do moving forward.
Ready to put it in drive...
A NOTE FROM WESLEY BRASWELL
AUGUST 20, 2018
On Sunday, August 12, I was offered and I accepted the position of Pastor at Valley View Baptist Church in Leeds, Alabama.
Three years ago God began stirring in my heart that a transition was imminent. I did not know what that meant or when it would come but it did begin a journey of introspection to determine just what I thought I might do if God did call me away from student ministry. This was a time of much growth and reflection. However, time passed and no change occurred or new path became evident. Meanwhile, in those same three years we have experienced the greatest growth in our student ministry during my tenure. Exciting things are happening, lives are being changed, and numbers are increasing. Then, this past May, I was made aware of a church in Leeds that was searching for a pastor. I submitted my resume and began speaking to their search committee through the summer. On the weekend of August 10-12, I met the church, spoke with their leadership, and preached during the Sunday morning service. After the service, they extended the invitation to me to become their pastor and I accepted. I will continue to serve as the Pastor to Students at The Church at Liberty Park through August 31 and then begin my tenure as Pastor at Valley View Baptist Church on September 2.
I cannot express to you how much you and your students mean to me and my family. Eight years is a long time to build relationships. You and your students are no longer people we serve but family we love. Thank you for the opportunities you have provided to me to pour into your lives and the lives of your students. It has been my pleasure and my joy.
Thank you again for all of your help, support, love, and kindness over the past eight years. While I may be changing churches and changing positions, I will not lose your number, so you do not have to lose mine. If I can help, serve, or support you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.
- Wesley Braswell, Pastor to Students
CLASS HAS RESUMED
AUGUST 13, 2018
I am sure it’s a sad day for moms and dads as the kids are now back in school. The summers tend to get shorter and fly by so fast. Remember the days of starting back to school AFTER Labor Day?
As Class has resumed for schools, we are also starting our Wednesday night gatherings back. Worship Arts for Kids and Team Kid will start as well as an adult study that Nate will be doing. I will be with the kids on Wednesdays to participate and invest in them this semester. In addition Leigh Simmons will have a women’s study on The Beatitudes which will be great. So … lets get off to a fast and faithful start as we begin our fall together.
Our church family voted this past Sunday, August 12, to move forward with the pre-construction portion of phase one of the master plan. This entails the development of an engineered set of plans to be drawn and a guaranteed maximum price bid to be given for construction. Once the pre-construction portion is completed and we have received the guaranteed maximum price, the church will vote on moving forward with the construction. In preparation, we will work with our finance team to develop the plan of budgeting and planned giving towards phase one. I am excited as we move forward and praying for a display of great trust in our great God in the area of extreme generosity.
I love you Church!
BUILDING TEAM UPDATE
AUGUST 8, 2018
What a wonderful time of fellowship we had this past Sunday evening as we shared delicious homemade ice cream and shared our new master plan moving forward. Our Building Team, under the leadership of Tim Whatley, did excellent work as they assessed priorities and next steps. The design/build team, Myrick, Gurosky & Associates, put those priorities on paper to develop the new master plan concept. In the July meeting, our Deacons reviewed and voted unanimously to recommend to the congregation that we move forward with the pre-construction portion of Phase One of the Master Plan.
For those who were not able to attend the church wide meeting, we have created a Building Update page on the website where we posted the conceptual drawings of the new Master Plan and Phase One. If the recommendation presented by the Building Committee and Deacons is approved by the church this Sunday, August 12, the earliest construction could begin would be December 2018 and would take approximately 7 months.
There is still much work to do to get us there including developing our financial plan to make this happen. We will work with the appropriate committees to start that process. There are exciting days ahead as we continue to reach out to our community with the hope of Jesus.
JULY 25, 2018
On Tuesday night, July 24, 2018, the Master Plan developed by Myrick, Gurosky and Associates was presented to the Deacons. The Deacons then voted unanimously to recommend to the congregation that we move forward with the pre-construction phase of Phase One of the Master Plan. This plan was developed after many meetings with our Building Committee which included looking at current demographics, walking our campus, and prioritizing the most pressing needs. We want to share this plan with our church family on Sunday, August 5th with a homemade ice cream fellowship, a time of worship and an opportunity to ask questions. The homemade ice cream fellowship will begin at 5:00pm. Please make plans to be here to be a part of this exciting time in our church. We will have a Called Business Meeting at the conclusion of the worship service on Sunday, August 12 to vote on the recommendation from the Building Committee and the Deacons to move forward with the pre-construction phase of Phase One of the Master Plan.
As we prepare to start our second service on September 16th, please fill out the Dual Worship Services/Bible Study Preference Survey online (www.libertypark.org/survey) or the paper survey in the worship bulletin to let us know the service you plan to come to. Our options are 9:00am and 10:30am. There will be Bible Study Groups meeting during these times. This presents opportunities to serve the second hour as a teacher from children to adults. I am very thankful to our Nominating Team who are working diligently to fill these roles. Growth presents challenges and changes. Thank you ahead of time for being faithful to fill the needs in areas not yet filled.
I have enjoyed hearing from you about the adventures this summer you have enjoyed with your family. Beach trips, mountains, islands, and Disney among many others. I can't wait to see everyone back as the normal routine of school and life resume. As summer concludes, I am asking our church family to catch up on their tithe. A fast start is needed for Fall as we move toward more ministry to our community. I am asking that we make August 5th our catch up Sunday. Please review your giving and let's “catch up” for God's glory as we move into the Fall.
JULY 9, 2018
That’s where we find ourselves...halfway through the summer, halfway through the year...some are halfway through chemo or other “days of trouble.” In life we sometimes get stuck in the middle. It can be a tough place, a lonely place, a painful place. There is a promise I want to remind you of, “He who began a good work in you [this means His good work saving you] is faithful to complete it”. Philippians 1:6
He knows you are at the halfway point. He knows you feel like you are breaking apart - but you will make it because God finishes what He starts! That’s why we are in the Psalms this summer. The psalms speak to our lives right where we are. If there are needs in your life that our staff can help you with please reach out and we will be there.
We are gearing up for fall with school beginning in about a month. I have met with all the principals of the Vestavia schools in Liberty Park and there are great ways we can partner with and love them in the name of Jesus. Look for a volunteer list coming soon. Let’s love our community!
I have asked Matthew Marsh to transition to Pastor of Buildings and Grounds. This move was facilitated through the personnel team and the Deacons were informed. I have shared with our personnel team a vision of ministerial staff moving forward to position us for an overall family ministry to meet the demanding needs of not only children and students, but ministry to moms and dads as they navigate raising children in a post-Christian society. Matthew is excited about his new role and will continue to minister in LP Kids Worship. I will be giving leadership to the Children’s Ministry during the transition.
Church Family, our best days are ahead.
WE ARE ONE
June 26, 2018
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
(Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV)
Let me begin my words with simply, “I love you church.” Those are not hollow but heartfelt toward you. The church in Scripture is described and compared to a lot of things, a building under construction, etc. My favorite, however, is the body. Though we have many parts, each doing their God-designed function, yet still being one. The passage in Ephesians reminds us of what we are to be and celebrate. We do not celebrate brick and mortar. We celebrate our calling as HIS Church. A sign on the outside can never describe what goes on inside. As we voted as a family yesterday to change our name, it is humility, gentleness, patience, love...proclaiming ONE LORD, ONE GOD, ONE FATHER and ONE HOPE, that makes the difference.
I want to commend you that yesterday, June 24, 2018, was not about old vs. new, past vs. present, but an intentional reaching out into the local mission field we find ourselves in. As I have committed to you, we will not move away from our Baptist history or affiliation. In fact, we will be able to explain a lot clearer to guests the real narrative of who we are as an SBC church and why we give to our missional entities. It will signal to the community that we are here for them. Though we have voted the change will be seen over the next several months. We will use our bulletins till they run out. Signage will not be changed immediately but over the next several months, along with the website. We will also be having several touch points over the next few months targeting the community for personal invitations. We have a great history, we have a bright future as we model this passage and do all for THE GLORY OF HIS NAME!
Pastor Randy Overstreet
May 14, 2018
What a joy it was this past Sunday to honor all of our ladies from the youngest to the most mature. Thank you for coming by the Pastor's reception to get some goodies and a hug!
I want to say thanks to my wife Sandra, and to Susie Chambliss and Cynthia Whatley, for their help in getting the goodies ready. Also, thank you to Jerri Minor for her beautiful arrangements and personal roses honoring our ladies. It was a very special day celebrating God's special gift of you to our faith family. Men, your day is soon coming…… June 17TH.. don’t miss it!
This Sunday is our 3 Circles training on how to have a gospel conversation with others. This is a great tool to add to what you already do in sharing your story of redemption. We will meet at 5:00 and be done at 6:15! Let Matthew know if you need childcare. I encourage you to watch the 3 Circles presentation and download the app to your smart phone to get familiar with it before Sunday.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GIVING
We are coming upon summer and vacations, travel ball, lake days/weekends etc. Please be mindful to be faithful in your tithes. We spend much of our student and children’s budget during these three months with VBS, sudent camps and other mission endeavors. If you do travel, please use our online giving portal on the website. Thank you for being faithful to Kingdom work. I like what Art Rainer says, ”Giving to your church is more than transferring money from one bank account to the next. It is an act of war against the world's darkness”.
I love you church,
THE NEXT GENERATION
April 30, 2018
This past Sunday night was a lot of fun as I had a small part in the Worship Arts for Kids Spring Musical, “I AM”. It was songs and dialogue about God’s attributes and character based on the names of God in Scripture. It was great to hear children voice from memory God’s word. My prayer is that it will be hidden in their hearts to continue to draw strength and encouragement as they can continue to mature.
Faith family, moving forward, this will be what matters: advancing the gospel and God’s glory in the next generation. It must be the priority as we look at the next phase of our church history. One pastor said, “Whoever wants the next generation the most, will get them”. Let me personalize and sharpen that a little… “whoever wants the next generation from Liberty Park and the Cotswolds the most, will get them”. While I was at the NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD we had a saying that permeated all that we did - “Whatever it takes”. That must be our theme moving forward in all that we do. Time is short, eternity is at stake, families are struggling to find answers and hope. Let us be the ones to bring that hope, and do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. More to come on this...
Churchwide Picnic - this Sunday!
I look forward to BBQ and the great fellowship as a faith family as we share a meal, hear children laugh, and celebrate our common bond in Jesus. I want to encourage our deacons to contact your families and connect with them at the picnic. The church will provide everything. Reservations are not necessary - just follow the crowd, right after the 10:30am worship service.
The Nominating Committee worked quickly to assemble the Building Committee. The Building Committee is composed of: Anne Alexander, Shelley Eudy, Teri Lott, Raymond Mock, Mike Stanford, Gregg West, Tim Whatley, and Matthew Wingard. Myrick Gurosky and Associates have been working diligently and will meet with our building team this week to look at ways to prioritize our space needs and our next steps. Please pray for our team as we continue to look at how our current facility can be maximized for God’s glory. Remember, the church is a people, not a building.
Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13
Remember, Sandra and I will welcome all ladies to celebrate not just mothers but every lady, young and …uhhhh, not so young, to just love you and celebrate the gift you are to your family and to God’s church.
I love you, church!
April 23, 2018
This past Sunday was a great day of worship as we hosted one of our missions partners, Pastor Terrence Jones and his wife, Thais, from Strong Tower Church in Montgomery. The message of obedience to God rather than man and being intentional with missional living only affirms what we have been talking about in our values series and especially the current series of Jonah. We will continue the series in Jonah this week in chapter 3 and celebrate communion together. I encourage you to volunteer for the Strong Tower trip in June as we partner with them. Please see Karen Ott to sign up for this opportunity.
We will have our training for 3 Circles on May 20th. 3 Circles will teach us how to use our own story and relationally share our faith in Christ. God has really used this tool to bring people to Christ. Remember, this is an all-in call of Jesus to share the Gospel. We will start at 5:00 and be done by 6:15. We will feed you and provide childcare. I hope to see you there.
May 6th is the day! There is no better time to invite someone to church than when we have a fellowship like this. Celebrating the community within the church and inviting those who need the community of Jesus. So.. don’t miss it! Deacons, I encourage you to contact your families and celebrate that fellowship together at the picnic. You don't need to bring a thing - the church is providing all the food and beverages!
MOTHER'S DAY, SUNDAY, MAY 13
Sandra and I love to celebrate not just Mothers on this Day, but every lady, from the youngest to the oldest. We will have a special table of delicious goodies for all of our ladies and look forward to personally greeting you. You will not want to miss this! We love you ladies!
EASTER OFFERING 2018
We are soooo close to reaching our goal of $20,000. Let's do it this Sunday! Remember, not a penny goes to overhead; it all goes directly to the missionaries.
May this Sunday find us faithful,
APRIL 9, 2018
Yesterday was a great day as we began the book of Jonah. We saw not only Jonah’s rebellion but a gracious God - a God who goes after those who are ignorant of His grace, i.e., the sailors who were on the boat, and those who have forgotten His grace - Jonah. All this and we haven’t even talked about the fish! The story is not about the fish, but about a great God! We will pick up in Chapter 2 this week. I encourage you to read it and pull out some principles that jump off the page to you.
It was exciting to vote to move forward with the master plan phase of meeting our facilities needs. I will always inform our faith family of the progress and next steps as we work with the team that the nominating committee will put together. Myrick, Gurosky & Associates are well known as the premier design/build team in church planning and construction. Their high integrity and local knowledge of our community will help as we move forward. Their local past projects include Shades Mountain, Hunter Street, Green Valley and Westwood Baptist churches. They were also the design/build team for my church plant and just finished the North American Mission Board renovation. Let’s pray for the team as they get started in this work to move us forward.
We are excited that on Sunday, April 22, we will host Pastor Terrence Jones from Strong Tower Church in Montgomery. We are pleased to partner with them as they reach inner city Montgomery. Terrence will preach for us that day and give an update on what God us doing in the church and community. Once again, as we move forward, I can’t highlight enough the importance of tithing. The one thing in the pastoral vision that ALL were most excited about was the possibility of giving more to missions. Currently, we are $87,324 behind in our goal because we started this “catch up” in March, not in January. We will show our progress in the bulletin to remind us of what God can do through us!
APRIL 2, 2018
To all the volunteers that made for a smooth Easter weekend, your service did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. So thankful for you!
We have several families to follow up with from the great crowds we had at each service. Please pray for “AG” who came to the second service. He is from Turkey and here studying at UAB. He wanted to experience a Christian Church and even went home with the Lucases to eat lunch! A chance encounter? No, a divine appointment! Please pray as I follow up with him this week. Overall, it was a great day, with a great family and with a victorious Savior at the center of it all, BUT LET’S MAKE EVERY DAY EASTER! It is every day hope for us. He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed!
It will be good to settle into a book of the Bible to continue to see God’s heart and Jesus in the Old Testament. Remember, Jesus is the Hero in the story of redemption. I encourage you to read the book of Jonah this week and begin to put yourself in the story because our story is there as well. I can’t wait to dig in to see what God has for us!
As you remember from the Vision Sermon on March 4th, I challenged us to meet our budget in 11 months, by November 30th. The purpose is to celebrate an extra blessing to missions locally and globally. To send more out than we keep. Moving forward, we have the potential to be the most generous church to the kingdom. Please do as Sandra and I will do. Put your giving on a “catch up” schedule to meet this goal. We started the Vision two months into the year so let us prove God’s faithfulness in our lives. I promise you will never miss it, never think twice about it. When the Kingdom is the priority in your life, everything else takes care of itself. He is faithful. Let us be faithful.
MARCH 26, 2018
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME, THOUGH HE MAY DIE, HE SHALL LIVE. AND WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME SHALL NEVER DIE.” JOHN 11:25-26
Do you believe this? Do WE really believe this? Are we like Paul who desired for his own life, ”That I may live in the power of His resurrection?” That is where true victory is found. Easter reminds us every day that we have hope; that through Christ, that which was once dead can live again. I love what Watchman Nee said, “...our old history ends with the cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.” The good news of the gospel is that those who are dead in their trespasses and sins can be brought to life as a new creation. The old is gone! Even as Christ followers, we can experience renewal as believers. A marriage can be resurrected, relationships with parents and children can come alive again because of the hope we have in the gospel. What is dead in your life? Find hope in the good news that all things can become new!
Don’t forget that we have two services on Sunday; 9:00am and 10:30am. We are asking members to come to the 9:00am service if you can. If you have invited someone to come to Easter services, then go to the service that they will attend so that they can sit with you as your guest. Remember the vision sermon on March 4? Invite those on your top 5 list. Please pray that God will use this service to engage hearts that will result in transformed lives and new members for the church. Let’s come to church excited about our hope so that our guests will see that the Gospel is our - and their - only hope.
See you Sunday!
MARCH 15, 2018
... is everyday! It is crazy how we start looking forward to Christmas in October, only to let the greatest celebration of the greatest victory in all the world, sneak up on us without notice. That is why we are in our "Road to Hope" series - celebrating life transformation in encounters with Jesus. Jesus brings hope.
I asked Nate to put together a brief "to do" list to help Easter go smoothly this year. Please note these items and pray for God to allow us to connect with guests in a meaningful way. Pray now for those not here yet. Can I ask you to begin prayer walking the apartments, Cotswolds and Liberty Park neighborhoods? Ask god for divine appointments as you walk and pray. Let me know if you would like me to follow up or reach out personally to anyone you meet. "The harvest is plentiful," Jesus said. All we have to do is go and fill our baskets. Let's be a Kingdom laborer.
Easter Sunday, April 1, will be a great day in the life of our church! As we gather together, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and His victory over sin and death. We will celebrate what He has done in our lives and anticipate what He will do in our church, our community, and the world.
Because our worship attendance has been on the rise and because we expect several guests on Easter Sunday, we will offer two identical worship services that morning - one at 9:00am and one at 10:30am. In preparation for those services, we want to ask you to do the following:
Pray - Pray that God would prepare our hearts to glorify Him and to receive His message this Easter. Pray that those who need to hear Gospel will be drawn to come to one of our services. And ask God to show you who you can invite to come this Easter.
Invite - Invite at least one person to worship with us this Easter. Who should you invite? Feel free to invite anyone, but pay special attention to those who are not currently in church, whose lives are not going well, or who are not prepared for what they are facing in life. Invitation cards are available at the church for you to take and use in inviting those to whom God leads you.
Come to the 9 - If possible, please make plans to attend the 9:00am worship service on Easter Sunday. Many of our guests will choose to attend the 10:30am service. By coming to the 9:00am worship service, you will help us to create space for our guests.
Sign up to Serve - Two worship services means that we will need twice as many volunteers. We are actively working to recruit volunteers to serve in our Preschool/Children's environments and to serve with our Welcome Team as greeters, ushers, in the parking lot and in the coffee bar. If you have not yet been contacted and would like to sign up to serve in one of these areas, please contact me at 205.969.1236 and I will be glad to connect you with a service opportunity.
Let's work together to make Easter an enjoyable and exciting day where God is glorified in our hearts, through our worship, and before all in attendance.
Your brother in Christ,
THE ROAD TO HOPE
What a great Sunday we had of looking forward. Like the children of Israel in Joshua 3-4 may we 1…seek the presence of God, 2.. separate ourselves out for the purposes of God and 3..Step out in Faith for the Glory of God so that all who come behind us (the next generation) will have found us faithful of being a people of vision…. Now let’s press on!
I always look forward to March. It is a time of renewal in the sense that those things that were dormant come alive again. Grass is starting to green up. Lillies and other flowers are starting to bloom…( I will not talk about the pollen that comes with it. I feel your pain. ) The point is while so much is visibly coming to life all around us, hope lies dormant in the lives of those around us. We are four weeks out from Easter and I want you to begin thinking about those in your lane of influence who need life that only Christ can give. Beginning this Sunday, we will have invite cards for you to personally give to those you know need hope. We will be having worship gatherings at 9:00am and 10:30am. Nate will be communicating opportunities for you to worship one hour and serve the other. It’s our biggest day of the year to connect with our community and we need volunteers in all areas. This Sunday we will begin a series of messages called The Road to Hope to prepare us as we celebrate what Paul said “is of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith family, the best days are ahead of us. The times are urgent and we must be faithful.
For His Glory,
FEBRUARY 26, 2018
Ninety days into our ministry together and the day has come to share a vision to move forward in 2018. I have met with and had coffee, breakfast and dinner with a lot of folks in our faith family. I WANT TO GIVE PUBLIC PRAISE TO SANDRA FOR ALL HER EFFORTS WITH ME. SHE IS SO KEY TO ALL THAT I DO. Several months ago I read a prayer that caught my attention because of the title:
"Disturb Us, Lord"
Disturb us Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future In strength, courage, hope, and love.
(attributed to Sir Francis Drake -1577)
That’s praying dangerously... but I love it. Lord, do not let us settle. Always disturb us so that we don’t get complacent. Help us to dream boldly so that we attempt something beyond ourselves, that we may celebrate what you have done through you’re people. With that being said, I look forward to sharing with you some practical things, bold things, and boldest things. I hope Sunday changes and challenges us to be all God has called and wants us to be.
February 19, 2018
This past Sunday was the most encouraging since I started almost 90 days ago. To speak on Matthew 6:19-24 is as one member put it “pretty brave” within the first 11 weeks of becoming pastor. I replied “if Jesus says it’s important, the church should know it’s important”.
I encourage all who read this blog to listen to the message if you were not here this past Sunday. If you do not have the time, let me remind all of us of the “Cliffs Notes” version; Jesus tells us there is only one safe place to invest - The Kingdom of God. Most people see no further than the horizons of this world. To correct our shortsightedness, God prescribes a vision correction to see through the lens of eternity. “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven” Jesus says. When you sit down with your financial planner he advises not to think five years ahead but think 30 years down the road. Jesus, the greatest financial adviser says “think in longer terms than that… think eternity.”
In the following passage, Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus links generosity with not worrying. Generous people are not anxious people. Why? Because they know they can never out give God.
As we come to the end of February we are behind in our giving. I am asking all of us, myself included, to catch up by Vision Sunday which is March 4th. One of the telling statements in the Matthew 6 passage was that “our hearts follow our treasure”. What we spend our money on leads to an altar to what we really worship. Let’s be found faithful in this matter of the heart and honor God with the “first fruits” and not out of what is left over. Let’s prove the tithe! I want our church to be known for generosity to the kingdom - see the big picture - Eternity.
Thank you Church. The best is yet to come.
JUST A VAPOR
FEBRUARY 12, 2018
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.” ( James 4:14)
Bill Stegall, one of my mentors, once told me, “Life is short, eternity is long. Live like it”.
Time is precious and we are fragile. Every moment counts. “Teach me to number my days...” Psalm 90:12 says. That simply means consider them and appreciate them. Consider how a day is spent, not wasting a moment but as Ephesians 5:16 says “Redeem the time”….. spend it wisely. On things that matter.
All flesh is like grass and its glory like the flower of grass. “The grass withers and the flower fades but the word of our God abides forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25). Spend your life on things that last. That are eternal. The word of God and the Souls of men.
That’s it. Surely God means for our minutes and days on earth to count for something significant. The Apostle Paul said “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” (Philippians 2:16)
As I was writing these words early on Monday, I received a call saying that Jean Simmons had passed away. Ninety years, just a vapor. Life is short, eternity long…..She lived like it. I have known the Simmons family for decades and what a blessing they have been to my family. Jean’s faithfulness, forthrightness, investment for generations and impact on God’s church will only be known in eternity. Today she worships, more alive than she has ever been. Her faith has become sight. Hallelujah. Pray for the Simmons family as they adjust to life without this precious saint.
FEBRUARY 5, 2018
I watched a part of the Super Bowl with one of our members last night. They had me at “we will have lots of wings”. The wings were great, the game exciting and the fellowship enjoyed.
Then I saw the video on the news of the celebration in Philadelphia. It was enthusiastic to say the least. People crying, hugging, food fights breaking out in restaurants and people destroying property. I don’t understand that one. “Hey we won! Let's tear up the city!” I understand the celebration. The owners of the team, players and fans have realized a dream, a goal, a vision. Win the Super Bowl. That’s a good thing, winning the game. But is it the ultimate thing?
As I write these words the staff and I are leaving for a retreat at a member's lake home. We will plan the rest of the year, fill the church calendar and I will drill down into a vision, the moving forward for our church. It’s a vision about ultimate things. I will share this vision on Sunday March 4th. It will be about ultimate things, not just good things.
Can I ask you to pray for me? To walk with me as we press forward? I am excited about the things God is stirring in my heart. I don’t want it just to be a “pastoral vision." I truly want it to be a vision we all own. I am excited about the future, what God is going to do in and through his church at Liberty Park.
I love you, church!
THE GREAT DEMAND
January 29, 2018
This past Sunday was a great day as we concluded our Missional Mandate Sermon Series. The highlight was coming to the Lord’s table to celebrate our personal identity with Him. As the cup was being passed, I was reflecting on the sufficiency of Christ, that He is truly all I need.
The Gospel…His death, burial and resurrection is what should permeate every area of my life, my marriage, parenting, work and leisure. A gospel-centered life is an impactful life. So… back to the cup being passed.
As I was thinking of my Savior’s shed blood for my sin, I was overwhelmed with the realization that He gave everything. He held back nothing of Himself that day. That’s what the love of the Father does…..He loves unconditionally.
Then I heard the piano playing a hymn that we all love.. one that I know every verse! I began to sing the words in my heart ... “when I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died”… I worked my way through the verses then it hit me like a ton of bricks… the song extolling the love of God towards me in the first verses now demands of me in the last verse ... “Love so amazing so divine, DEMANDS MY SOUL MY LIFE MY ALL.” The great demand! Total abandonment.
How is this demand being fleshed out in your life daily? “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me”. (Matthew 16:24).. that is a bad word in our society… DENY.. then add..YOURSELF! That’s not the American dream. “Fulfill yourself” is the dream in our culture.
I will end with lyrics from another well known hymn. “All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give.. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. I surrender all.. I surrender all.. all to Jesus my blessed Savior, I surrender all”. Does that reflect your life? A surrendered church, surrendered lives.. that is the great demand upon us all. As you start each day will you simply say to your Heavenly Father.. “I surrender” That is the only life he can use. A surrendered life.
I love you, church -
January 22, 2018
We live in an amazing time of our world. We can almost instantly connect with people anywhere at any time. The technology that the world is creating is incredible. I recently read about a company in Japan that has created robots that you can assemble as kind of engineering toys. Mechanical people! With mechanically engineered emotions, language, response and movements. They all sound alike, walk alike and talk alike…. How cool but how boring!
That is great technology with little creativity. I am so thankful that God did not create us that way... making us look, talk, and all have the same emotions.
No, our God is a creative wonder. We don’t look the same act the same or talk the same…. And yet he pulls us together in this one community of His forever family by His selfless redeeming act of shedding His blood, “for you have been bought for a price,” 1 Corinthians 6:20.
That’s what the church is. A community of blood bought individuals doing life together. We are not robots but uniquely created for the purpose of Glorifying his name. We do that by the varying
gifts and talents within the community working together to edify ... build up one another. We are not perfect, therefore needing encouragement along the journey. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says “two are better than one for they have a better return for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to pick him up. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him… for a strand of three chords cannot be broken.”
Robots can’t do that! They can’t experience that kind of community, sharing pain and real emotion. Praise God that we walk not only with each other but with our redeemer who binds us together! “...a chord of three strands cannot be broken.”
Again, that’s what the church is. A community of blood bought individuals doing life together. Not perfect, but encouraging each other along the journey. What better way to truly experience “community” than to come to the Lord’s table together this Sunday!
JANUARY 15, 2018
Our mid-week family nights began again this past Wednesday. Our adult study is concentrated on the discipline of prayer. Just to give a snapshot of what we talked about this past week, we looked at the legacy of prayer. Examples of Abraham, Hannah, Jeremiah and David in the Psalms. Real feelings, real emotions real words. Some of the prayers these real people in scripture prayed were as simple as HELP! Nothing theologically mind blowing… just an honest cry to our Heavenly Father to intervene.
Now here’s the question; do you believe God hears you when you pray? Have you ever talked with someone and you really KNEW they were not listening? I tell you, the God of the universe, the one who created you in your mother’s womb takes great delight in listening to you. Psalm 116:1-2 says “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” That’s leaving a legacy… as long as I live I will call on Him. Do you let your children hear you pray? It is a great way to teach them and model for them the importance of this discipline. We need to allow our children to see us wrestle with God, plead with Him about the things that grip us and cause us to worry. We need to journal our requests and record answers to show them that God answers. It teaches them patience as we are in God’s waiting room, waiting for the answer. It teaches them that we aren’t equipped to carry our burdens alone.
A hymn we all sing from time to time says, “Oh what PEACE we often forfeit, Oh, what needless PAIN we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” He is our Father,
He loves us. May we be like Moses, in Exodus 33:11, “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” I pray for that type of intimacy with my Heavenly Father.
Church Family, I’m praying that we all grow deeply, practicing the presence of God through this awesome gift of Prayer.
Come join us on Wednesday!
MISSION AND VALUES
JANUARY 9, 2018
That’s our identity. This is who we say we are, what we do! As you know we started our Identity series this past Sunday with “We exist to Glorify God.”
That’s our bull's-eye. If we miss that, we miss everything! Remember 1 Corinthians 10:31? “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” There are no mundane things. All of your life can be used for God's glory. Everything matters! Live in that lane for a week and see what happens. Psalm 16:8 says, "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” That’s the key to living for God's glory. The Lord is always the filter of all I do… will it, can it bring Glory to his name? May we learn to live that way, think that way? This week we will look at the second part of our Mandate… How do we glorify God? By Making Disciples. Can’t wait to see you Sunday!
JANUARY 2, 2018
Hey faith family! It's time to get back into the regular routine. The tree is down and left overs are gone.. I am so ham and turkey weary! It’s time to reboot and move forward into 2018. Let's start out the new year committed to our Sunday Worship gathering and Wednesday nights where there is something for everyone. We have a great meal so that you do not have to cook, the children and students have ministry meetings and adults will have a study to attend.
This Sunday we will begin a series on our Missional Mandate “Identity”. I will simply take our Mandate and Values and biblically walk through them over the coming weeks. The Mandate and Values were formed out of the Study conducted by a special church needs task force made up from members of our church and the staff. Auxano, a team from Lifeway, led the church through the process.
What is our Missional Mandate?
Our Missional Mandate is to glorify God and make disciples by inviting our
community to enjoy fulfilling lives in Christ.
What are our Values?
Speaking His Truth - teaching biblical truth, equipping for life
Sharing Our Hope - telling our stories, winning our world
Showing the Way - leading the next generation, following God's path together
Soothing Their Hurt - loving people, caring for their needs
I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we start the new year faithful together in Worship, Serving and Growing.
I love you church!
DECEMBER 27, 2017
That is what we find ourselves doing in the last week of the year. The tree is coming down, presents being returned for a bigger size… okay, that’s just for me. But, if you are like me, I am reflecting.
I have been your pastor for a month now and I find myself looking back at the parties, dinners, trying to get names right. But I only look back as a means to go forward. That is what a new year brings.. new starts, new opportunities….fresh goals! Anyone need a fresh start?
You see sometimes we reflect on the wrong things. Things we can no longer control.
The former things. I love Isaiah 43:18-19:
“remember not the former things, nor consider the days of old.
Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
See the command?.. don’t look back!! Look forward! If you keep looking back you are going to miss what I want to do! What I WILL do! Let us live with that type of anticipation!
O God do a new thing in my life! Do a new thing at Liberty Park! Do you sense that, church? New things in your life and the life of God’s church? Read the last line of the verse again. It can be read two ways. First, nothing is going to get in the way of what God is going to do.. NOTHING. His will cannot be thwarted. Secondly, it says that tough times could be ahead but His promise is to provide a way through the dry desert times. Which is true? Both are true. Because that is how life flows. And, in the Desert is where God does his new things to teach us and mold us to be like Jesus. Embrace that… I hope to see you on Sunday the 31st as we consider the new year before us. Sandra and I look forward to growing relationships deeply in 2018.
A BABY IS BORN
DECEMBER 18, 2017
I remember in February of 1992 when Sandra told me the news that we were going to have a baby. Just the anticipation of this child (Maggie) shifted our conversations, our schedules, and our priorities. Then the day came when she would be delivered. It was not the smoothest of deliveries. Almost 20 hours from the time we arrived at the hospital, doctors who never disagreed were disagreeing on whether to take Sandra to surgery. We had complete confidence in our doctor who was a Believer and stayed the whole 20 hours at the hospital with us watching 15 episodes of Bonanza as we waited on sweet Maggie to be born. Twenty-five years later, I look at Maggie and still experience the joy of the moment I first held her. She did change our lives. She did change our priorities. She did change our conversation.
A Savior is Born
Could you imagine that night? A stable, animals around, the stench in the air? I don’t think this is how Mary envisioned the birth of her child, but this is exactly how God envisioned it. A humble birth, announced to shepherds first, and not to the palace that was just a few miles away. Luke 2 says that once the shepherds told Mary the news concerning the angels' proclamation, she kept it and pondered it in her heart. The child she was holding was God with a heartbeat and kidneys! Immanuel, God with us. A child that would not only change Mary and Joseph’s priorities, schedules and conversation but those of the entire world! This child was simply born to die. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) He experienced the wages of sin… DEATH. The payment, the debt…. Personalize it…MY debt. YOUR debt. He became MY sin on the cross! As we prepare to come to God’s table this Sunday, reflect this week on this indescribable gift to you! Celebrate the gift of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE this child, this SAVIOR, THIS KING brings and offers to a broken world needing not some good advice, not three ways to have a happy day, but a SAVIOR. “And you shall call His name Jesus, For He will save His people from their sins.”
Has He changed your life? Your priorities? Your conversations?
Merry Christmas, Church Family! I love you!
DECEMBER 11, 2017
It's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas…everywhere I go! Stores are saturating us with the news of BIG SALES. Some stores have dancing guys, twirling signs, wearing costumes that look like Santa and there was a dancing gorilla on 280 pointing the way to the store that hired him. They constantly are competing for our attention. The signs said “50% off til Christmas.” Some stores were touting the “cheapest gifts” in town! Hey guys buy your wife a gift and tell her…. “Yeah it was cheap, that’s why I bought this for you!” Enjoy the couch! We can’t get by with…. “Well it was the thought that counts right?”
Take some time this week and reflect on God’s gift to us. The difference in experiencing great joy this Christmas is seeing the difference between what we want and what we truly need. Our Heavenly Father did not offer us a cheap gift. He did not put a monetary value on His gift to us. He offered himself. He offered himself on a cross. His gift was not cheap but free… lasting for eternity. Why do we invest in temporal things? Why do we give things that after the new year lose their impact? My hope is that we would be most generous to God’s Kingdom this Christmas.
As I have begun my ministry here at LPBC, I see we are behind in our budget and missions offering . I have always led churches that have exceeded budgets and missions goals. I want to encourage you that as we approach the end of the year to be generous to your church and our missions offering. We are halfway to our goal of $25,000. We should knock that out of the park! Let's show our children, and others what we truly value - God and his Kingdom!
My prayer is that we finish the year strong as a testimony to our Savior of what really matters in our lives. Can't wait to see you this Sunday!
DECEMBER 4, 2017
This past week, my sweet wife Sandra and I were sitting down and filling our calendars for Christmas. Family dinners, Sunday School parties, staff get togethers, friends and not to mention all the gifts to be purchased…..seems like there is not enough room for all of the joyful festivities, but we figured it all out. Isn’t that true for all of life?
It is not just Christmas that is busy, but everyday seems to be filled with rushing to make a meeting, beating a deadline, getting the house cleaned, recitals, homework ... there seems to be very little room for error as it would throw the whole day out of whack. Do you know that what is true with making room for our calendar is true for our heart? Spiritually making room. Unfortunately, like our day, we struggle to find time to pause for what is most important - meeting with our Savior. Finding room for HIM. I am reminded of these words:
“JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME
LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING
LET EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM
AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING!”
This carol reminds us that room must be prepared. Consider your life today. Isn’t it true that Jesus sometimes exists in the margins? That he is peripheral rather than central? Can we confess to each other that our hearts are full.. full of the wrong things? May we begin now to prepare Him room by crowning Him as Lord and King of our lives. He will suffer no rivals, He will entertain no competitors. In preparing him room, we are at the same time being prepared for true, even “Great Joy.”
May this week bring you great joy as you personally worship and be reminded that God Himself, put on our flesh to be our substitute and pay the price for the gift we could never purchase… SALVATION. That’s why Heaven and Nature Sings!!
THE LIGHT THAT LEADS US HOME
NOVEMBER 28, 2017
Faith Family, what a great start to our celebration of Advent this past Sunday! As we celebrated the Hope of Christmas, we look forward to this Sunday as we talk about Christmas Peace. What a timely subject in a world full of chaos.
I also want to remind you that these are great opportunities to invite those you know who are looking for or needing a church home. "Christmas in the Park" on December 10th is also another touch we can have in the community. Please take an invite card Sunday and personally invite someone to this special musical celebration of "The Light That Leads Us Home."
Our Christmas Missions offering goal is $25,000 this year. 100% of this offering goes for the support of our missionaries around the world... no administration cost is taken from your gift.
May we be found faithful as we finish the year strong! I love you church family!