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April 25, 2018, 11:12 AM

The Good News in May, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

“But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” and they say to me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them.’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’” - Exodus 3:13-14

God is clear who He is and what He is about. God and Jesus also say the following: I AM the LORD. I AM the LORD your GOD. I AM compassionate. I AM merciful. I AM gentle. I AM humble in heart. I AM holy. I AM love. Granted, He is not clear about ‘how’ all that works…
But then Jesus turned this question around on his apostles and asked, “Who do you say I am? We are also asked the same question every day of our lives, “Who do you say I am?”

How do you answer that question? We answer in our actions in the world. We answer in our relationships with our family. We answer in our response to other people; not just the people who are similar to us, but people like strangers, orphans, widows, the poor, the destitute, and aliens. After all, who do they say God is? How would you answer that question if you were in those dire circumstances? How would you answer that question if you felt you had no hope? Who would God be to you?

Yet, you know God, the merciful, gentle, loving God. How do you tell others about your God? How do you tell strangers about your God? I read an article today that said The Great Commission is rarely taken seriously today. Do you take it seriously? Do you live it? The way we answer those last two questions may well be what the world hears as our answer to “Who do you say I am?”  Would God like that answer?

March 30, 2018, 8:16 PM

The Good News in April, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

It is that time of year where I have all my annual tests and physicals. Sitting and waiting has given me time to think about our spiritual check-ups. How are you doing spiritually?
David Platt suggested some areas to prayerfully consider and act upon.
PRAYER. Are you praying every day? Are you praying for the ENTIRE world? The world certainly needs our prayers. Would you commit to praying every day for the next year, especially to include the entire world?
SCRIPTURE. Are you reading scripture every day? Not just books or articles about religion, but the WORD itself? Would you commit to reading the ENTIRE Bible before 3/31/19?
CARE. Are you faithful in caring for the members of our church? Do you send cards? Do you make phone calls? Do you visit? Would you commit to contacting the other members of our body, one every week, other on a gathering day? This should include ALL our members.
SACRIFICIAL GIVING. Are you faithful in your giving? If so, can you remain faithful in your giving, and then find something else to give to sacrificially above what you give now? Perhaps it is giving food EVERY week to a food pantry. Perhaps it is buying new clothes and giving them to a clothes closet. Perhaps it is giving to CBFVA? Would you commit to sacrificially giving through a trustworthy agency without reducing your regular giving to your church so another human in this world would have to struggle less?
EVANGELISM. Jesus gave you the greatest gift ever given. Do you share that gift? Who else needs to hear The Gospel (Good News)? Would you commit to being more evangelical over the next twelve months?
Five requests of commitments from every person, every week, for fifty-two weeks. I have scheduled April 7, 2019 for our annual checkup. How will you make your “faith” an action verb this year?

March 3, 2018, 8:41 PM

The Good News in March, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Matthew 28:16-20 16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus left the church, both the Big “C” Church, and all the little “c” churches, the instructions stated above – make disciples, baptize, and teach. They are huge responsibilities for us to have been given in The Kingdom!
I love that verse 17 allows us room for doubt, because the Lord knows there are days we all may doubt something. Yet, we must also realize that doubt does not relieve or alleviate the instructions that follow verse 17. Inaction in The Kingdom is rarely an option. The most notable exceptions are for sabbath rest and physical illness. Abraham is a prominent example where age is not even an exception.
We are coming off of a year which was filled with a highly emotional transition. Our focus in 2017 was rightly on discernment and our own emotional health. Our soft landing at Woodland Heights has been what we needed, when we needed it. I hope you feel like we are adjusting well to our new environment. I do. That being said, it now appears to be time for us to turn, and once again, face our Kingdom responsibilities – clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, caring for the least, baptizing, discipling, and teaching.
How will you use your spiritual gift(s) (apostle, prophet, teacher, deeds of power, gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues) to bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) in The Kingdom? Will you pray with me to hear how God answers this question, in my life, in your life, in the church’s life, and in the Church’s life? I cannot wait to hear what God says to each of you!!

February 1, 2018, 8:05 PM

The Good News in February, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

We moved. Those two short simple words encapsulate our whole year, and while they are explicitly right, they do not even come close to describing the totality of emotions, actions,
and thinking that went into last year.
“We moved” does not convey the absolute vulnerability and trust we had for each other in
our many conversations.
“We moved” does not acknowledge the countless hours we spent in prayer and discernment seeking a journey that would honor God.
“We moved” does not reflect all the detailed conversations we had to make sure everyone
who wanted to be informed was fully informed.
“We moved” does not reflect that every vote we took was unanimous because of all the preliminary work which was done out of care for each other.
“We moved” does not weigh the gallons of tears we shed in having to come to this decision
to make this move.
“We moved” does not portray the volume of joy we feel knowing the value of the property
will perpetually minister to those in need.
“We moved” does not honor the individuals from the beginning that have contributed their love, blood, sweat, and tears to Southampton.
“We moved” does not count the tedium of the miniscule which was performed to do this
move the right way.

“We moved” does not feel the love we experienced in the WAY Woodland Heights worked
with us in total respect and unequaled hospitality to insure we had a place to worship.
“We moved” does not tell the whole story. How many times in each of our lives do we abbreviate our words for efficiency only to discount the robustness of what we have done
and who we are? How many times do we do that with God’s story? “Aw, they already know about God, it’s no use for me to say something.”
It is up to US to tell the WHOLE story, the story of 2017 and the story of God. It is a story to remember. It is a story to continue to share. It is a good story. It is our story.
It is God’s story.
But, that was not the only thing to happen last year. We worshipped well, on Sundays and
on special occasions, as is our custom. We met in fellowship with regularity. Our council and business meetings continued on schedule. We love each other immensely, and we do our
best to love those that come in, just not many come in. Our giving has remained faithful.
Our average attendance has fallen slightly again, and really tends to vary based on what life events are happening to which members on any given Sunday. In membership, loosely defined, we lost Martha Hicks and Rusha Smith to their eternal reward. Allen Wright and
Casey O’Berry felt led to join our fellowship. We baptized no one. We led no one to Christ.
How can we be more vocal and engaged with those not already in The Kingdom?
As I said in worship, I have heard this current year called 20GR8teen, so what can we do to
live into that designation after we become acclimated into our new place and establish
our rhythms here? The Kingdom depends on our participation. What does God want us to
be doing, here, now, in this place? How can we be obedient to His desires?

January 7, 2018, 9:03 PM

The Good News in January, 2018 ~ A Message from the Pastor

Happy New Year!! 2018 really appears to be a NEW year. We will be worshipping in a NEW place. We will meet NEW people. We will have NEW experiences. 2 Corinthians 5:17a tells us we are NEW creations; “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.”
For those people who like NEW things, this year will bring lots of energy and excitement.
For those people who do not like change, this year will be a year of measured vulnerability.
Which folks are right? YES. This kind of question has no right or wrong answer. We need each other. We need folks generating excitement and we need folks who watch for more information. We need each other to make us all fully complete, just as the parts of the body depend on one another.
The greatest comfort for both groups will be that we are going to live and experience this year as a congregation, or as it is often seen in the biblical Greek, ekklesia, which is the special assembly or called-out group of people, most often conveyed as being local in application. We are a living body called together to worship and serve God.
Please note “worship” and “serve” are both action verbs. Our God is a God of action. His Kingdom is a Kingdom of action. One of the greatest opportunities in coming alongside WHBC is there will be additional ministries for us (both ekklesia) to use (another action verb) our gifts and talents, especially those we are most passionate about, without constraints.
The NEW question of 2018 each of us must answer is not, “Will I serve?” but more importantly, it is the same OLD question, “Where/How will I serve?” The Kingdom is depending on your answer.
Reverend Tom Ficklin

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