Pastors’ Blog

Read weekly insights from all of our Pastors regarding the vision for First Baptist Athens.
 

Pastors’ Blog 6/8/2015 – Live from New York!

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Live from New York…it’s Monday morning. This week Drew and I (Daustin) are rocking out in Rockaway, NY for a mission trip with a total of 9 team members. Our purpose in this trip is to “Glorify God By Making Disciples Of All Nations”. New York City is a strategic opportunity for the good news of Jesus to reach many nations in a single location. There is virtually every nation represented in the NY Metro and there are hundreds of languages spoken by the people here. All nations can literally be reached from this one city.
Alright, so now you are probably asking how we are making disciples. We are doing this by teaching ESL courses at a West African community center and at a South Asian community center. While we are there, we are seeking to build relationships with people and are seeking to have spiritual conversations as our relationships with these people develop. So what does this look like? It really is not that much different than back home in Athens. As we build relationships with people, we typically tell them about our families, our hobbies, and in general about our life. As Christians, we should also tell people about the most important thing that has happened in our life. It is a very easy way to have a spiritual conversation with a person and to see how the Holy Spirit is guiding you to share Jesus with them. We are also making disciples by helping the Christians that are already here doing work to keep the momentum going for them and to give them some reprieve as we come alongside them and help with some of the things they are already involved in with ministry.
God loves this stuff! He tells us throughout Scripture that He loves the nations and that He wants them for His glory. Please pray for us as we travel about the city and as we build relationships with people. Pray for Urban Nations Outreach as they are transitioning their home base from one house to another for the teams that come in the summer to help them. Pray that hearts will be prepared by the Spirit to receive the good news of the work of Jesus.
AP Daustin
#sundayiscoming


Why Short Term Missions?

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Why short term missions? 

On June 5th, myself and 8 others will load in a van and head up to the Capital of the World, New York City. At first thought, it seems like a great idea, going to a city where the gospel hasn’t been heard, and sharing the gospel with the hope of revival. We can often imagine scores of people dedicating their lives to Christ and turning from their sin. Wouldn’t it be great to hear something positive on the news about NYC? 

Often times the pendulum swings the other way, and we get a far to pessimistic point of view. The mindset can be along the lines of “Well, at least if no-one gets saved we will have the opportunity to see a broadway show or something.” This is a sad misconstruction of what missions is supposed to be. While we will see and do many things in NYC, the goal is the gospel, not the tourism.

But here is the thing, there are 8.4 million people living in NYC. There is no way the first scenario seems plausible, that NYC will be a Christian city. It seems that there is far too much darkness for the light to overcome. 

When I think of short term missions, I am reminded of Romans 10:14-17. 

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The reason we go is to show people Christ. We go to for that 1 person. 

While we cannot manufacture disciples, we are called to share. However, there is one thing we do have control over.

Ourselves.

While renewal may not happen in NYC next week, renewal can always happen in the heart of the obedient Christian. So while we go on short term missions, the biggest change we often see is in ourselves. It is only once we are renewed ourselves that we can lead others to the satisfaction of the gospel of Christ.

The mission isn’t just out there. The mission is right here. Let’s not save obedience for the mission field, let’s live obedience to the Great Commission right here in Athens.

#SundayIsComing
-Drew Byers
Minister to Youth


Pastors’ Blog – May 25, 2015 – Vacation Bible School

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So is Vacation Bible School (VBS) really worth it?  Some may say it is an awful lot to ask—you know 15 hours of time with the children and all the preparation and teardown work?  Others may think I wish we could to this for two weeks like we did back . . .  There is a trend developing: in 1997 81% of churches in the USA conducted VBS during the summer months but in 2012 that was down to 68%.  The good news is that in  Southern Baptist churches more than 9 out of 10 hosted a VBS program in 2012.  (Stats from Barna group)

 
I don’t know of any other effort we make that touches as many impressionable lives in only 5 days as VBS.  It is critical timing when we consider that almost half of all Americans who accept Christ do so before the age of 13, and 64% by the age of 18.  We have some serious responsibilities simply because of the season of life.
 

Recently I have done some indoor painting. if you paint like me you end up getting some paint where you didn’t intend for it to be.  You have a choice when that happens. You can quickly wipe it with a wet rag and remove it from most surfaces.  But if you procrastinate it will take far greater effort to remove unwanted dried paint.  Our children’s spiritual nature is a little like that.  If when they are young, and inquisitive, and open, they are taught a biblical world view and are led to faith in Christ, their life will take an entirely different trajectory than where a secular world view will lead them.  It is not easy today “to be in the world and not of it,” and I know VBS is only one tool to that end.  But I think there is a case to be made it is one of the best tools available that allow us to model, teach, and train the children of Athens and the surrounding area who Jesus is, and how to follow Him.

 

Pastor Tim
#SundayIsComing


Pastors’ Blog – 5/18/2015 – Christians and Memorial Day

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The Christian and Memorial Day

Last spring my family and I (Pastor Jason) went to Washington D.C. over spring break.  While there we visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It was a moving experience to see the changing of the guard, the placing of the wreath, and all those crosses marking the graves of people who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.   Next Monday is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.  It is right for us to remember.

We may not all have immediate family members who have died in combat, but we should all take time to pray for those who have.  We should also thank God for the freedoms we enjoy, freedoms that have been defended and paid for with blood.  Ultimately, we should remember the one who laid down his life on the cross so that we could be forgiven and have everlasting life.

As you gather with family and friends on Memorial Day for picnics and barbecues, don’t forget to take a moment and remember.  Remember their sacrifices.  Pray for their families.  Lead your family and friends to give worship to God and thanks to Jesus Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 Pastor Jason
#SundayIsComing

 



Graduation….what’s the big deal?

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This week is a special week for so many individuals completing degrees of various sorts. From High School graduation, to College or Masters, Graduation is a big deal to so many people. Proud parents, grandparents and friends flood arenas, auditoriums, and sports stadiums to see their child, relative, or friend receive a piece of paper that says they have really accomplished something great.
However, I will never forget when I received my college degree in Music, and thought to myself…what is the big deal?
I may have received this piece of paper, but I’m not planning on doing anything with it. It might sit prominently displayed in my office or home, but it doesn’t make me a better person than I was the Friday night before I received it. I was celebrating my own accomplishments, but for no distinct purpose other than that I was done with school, at least for a little while.
However, I don’t think that is the right attitude to have. I think it is altogether appropriate that we celebrate graduation. Because while graduation is a small notion of a person’s faithfulness to complete coursework, it is a far greater example of God’s faithfulness in the Christian’s life.
There are all manner of experiences that someone has during their time in High School and College, and those experience shape and transform a student more than any textbook or schoolwork ever could. The relationships that are formed, the concepts that are grasped, the times of growth that really occur, often times don’t happen within the confines of the classroom.
However, I wonder if sometimes those moments of growth wouldn’t happen at all if it weren’t for the time spent inside of the classroom. Graduation is more than just an acknowledgement of accomplishment, it is a milestone in the formation of a person.
And for the Christian, this formation is far more than just social or academic, this formation is spiritual. As our high school students receive their diplomas this year, they will look back on the ways that they have grown, succeeded, failed, and changed over their lives. I think the diploma is a good reminder that God has been faithful through that process, and will continue to be faithful for the hard times to come.
So as we celebrate graduation with those we love and are dear to this year, we must not see it as an ending point, but rather as an entry point to a new phase of life. As we reminisce over the past years of life, one theme should ring true in the life of every Christian.
God is faithful.
He is faithful to accomplish what He begins.
He is faithful to sustain those who are His own.
He is faithful to work all things together for His glory.
I am reminded of Paul’s understanding of accomplishments in life in Philippians 3:7-8
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
I hope this helps us gain perspective as we celebrate graduation. While our accomplishments are good things, if they are separated from the knowing of Jesus Christ, then they are the same as rubbish. We must constantly gear our eyes heavenward, concerning any accomplishment we might merit. If accomplishments are not rooted in Christ, then I think the Bible is clear that they don’t amount to much.
So find a graduate in your life this week, and encourage them! They certainly need it. Congratulate them about all they have done. However, don’t forget to remind them about all that God has done, and all that God is going to do as they start this next chapter of their life. It’s all for His glory.
#sundayiscoming
Drew Byers
Minister to Youth


Pastors’ Blog – The Christian and Mother’s Day

The Christian and Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays for the simple fact that no one got here without a mother. Even if you have never met her, even if you don’t know her name, you have a mommy. And we love our mommy. She is one of the grandest blessings that God could give to us. Had a bad day at work? Fail a test? Need to cry? Get hurt by someone? Mama might not be our first word, but she is the first person we meet as we hear her sweet voice while growing in her tummy. She is the one that loves us enough to give up herself for us. Mothers are a picture of Jesus and how He came not to be served, but to serve. No mommy in her right mind thinks about having a child so they can help fold the laundry (although mommy thinks about how helpful that may be on some Mondays). They think about loving and doting and caring and kissing and holding and nurturing that sweet little baby. God has instilled this into women and mothers bear the image of God in this virtue of their person.
 
Sadly, we live in a world full of brokenness. I hate when I turn on the news and see children abused or neglected by their mother. There is a deep pain that I feel for ladies that are unable to conceive–a result of the fallen world around us. I fill with tears thinking about the little babies, that have a soul that will never die, that are discarded due to a mother wanting an abortion. I am sad when I think about the day when my mommy won’t be here anymore and when I think about friends that have already lost their mommies. This is absolutely not right, and God would have never created the world this way. In fact, He didn’t. It was because of the sin of man that these are all realities that we face in this present world. So what in the world are we to do? Should we live in gloom and doom because of the sadness and bad memories that a day like this could bring up?
 
We are to praise God for the good that He has given to us in our mother. For those who still have a mother alive, we need to celebrate them and spend time with them on this special day. If they live far away, call them and thank them for changing that 2AM diaper. If they live nearby, hug and kiss them and thank them for all the hugs and kisses they gave you that you will never remember. If your mother has passed away, celebrate their life on this day. Even though they are gone, they still feel so close in your heart and mind everyday and celebrate all the great times you had with your mother. If your mother neglected you or if you do not even know your mother, you can still celebrate that God used her to bring you into the world that you might have life. If you have been struggling to have children and dealing with the pain of monthly disappointments from infertility, my heart deeply goes out to you. Celebration is difficult. Use this day as an opportunity to celebrate your own mother and to intensely pray that God will open your womb like He did that of Rachel (Genesis 30) and Hannah (1 Samuel 1). We celebrate you and your dedication and desire to fulfill Scripture to “be fruitful and multiply”. For those that have lost children through miscarriage or in life, you are not less of a mother. Instead, you are some of the greatest mothers. Look to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who lost her Son, and celebrate the hope that you will be reunited through the Resurrection! For mothers that have had abortions, and feel a great void in your life because of not hearing little footsteps and cleaning up little messes, look to the cross of Jesus! We are all sinners saved by the same Saviour. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. Do you think that He cannot save you from this? Of course He can. Re-read 1 Corinthians 6.11. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
 
We celebrate Mom on this special day because God gave her to us, whether good, bad, indifferent, or unknown. Mom, I love you very much. More than I realized as a little boy. You were such a good mommy and still are. Jessica, I love you very much. You are so good to our three little children and are such a good mommy. I am so glad God has given me you to be my partner in parenting.
-Associate Pastor Daustin
#SundayIsComing


Pastors’ Blog – Why Should a Pastor Blog

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Blah blah blog.  I have to admit that I winced a little when Daustin suggested we start a blog.  Though I personally enjoy and find benefit in reading blogs, the thought of adding another item to my pastoral to-do list was not a welcome thought.  But then I began to think about what I enjoy so much about the blogs I read and I reconsidered.  A blog is a basically a website on which an individual or individuals can share ideas and information in an informal and conversational way.  I think there are at least 3 ways a pastor’s blog can be beneficial:
 
To Inform.  As a pastor I am always looking for opportunities to communicate an important event or piece of information.  For example, I often come across a really good article or book that I think will be blessing to others.  A blog is a great tool to quickly and easily share such information or to pass on a “recommended read.”
 
To Instruct.  Believe it or not, I don’t always get to share everything on my heart on Sundays.  Sometimes I have to trim the sermon down so that you will stay and listen!  A blog gives me the opportunity to communicate a verse from my devotions or a point that I didn’t have time to make on Sunday.
 
To Interact.  As a pastor, I wish I could spend time personally with each member of the church, but the restraints of time and space prohibit me from being everybody’s friend.  A blog enables me though, to share from my personal life and experience.  I want you to know that I am more than just a preacher; I am a husband, father, and fellow Christian who is trying to follow Jesus like so many of you.
 
These things are true not just of me, but of all our pastors at FBCA.  My reluctance is starting to turn into excitement over this whole blogging thing.  I hope you will get excited too.  Until next time,
#Sundayiscoming


Pastors’ Blog – Introduction

What is this and what is it doing here? A Pastors’ Blog? What does that even mean? Don’t they have something else that they could be doing? Aren’t they busy enough? Aren’t blogs passé? If I don’t read this am I a bad church member?

Hopefully not all of these questions went through your mind, but some of them probably did. Yes, this is a blog for the Pastoral staff at First Baptist Church Athens. No, you are not a bad church member if you don’t read it (you would not have seen this sentence anyway). Our Pastor has commissioned this blog because it is one more opportunity for Biblical teaching during the week for the people of our church. He will discuss this in more detail in next week’s post. Think of it as a spiritual energy drink that you can consume in the midst of a hectic, bland, or otherwise intense week filled with calendars, work, family life, and busyness.

We hope that you will tune in and read the blog as you are able. Each week, usually on Mondays, a new blog post will be made. The topics of blog posts will vary from how Christians understand different holiday celebrations, to why we do certain things at church on a weekly basis, to everyday Christian living advice. The blog posts are going to be Scripture filled. Every post will be informed and directed by the Word of God. Otherwise, we would be no different than a secular blog concerning human life and living.

This blog is intended to fall into line with the overall vision our Pastor has from God concerning our church. It is meant to Glorify God, by making Disciples, of All Nations.

#Sundayiscoming