Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A New Look at the New Year

We knew it was coming. We had anticipated it for several days, even though it wasn’t necessarily front-and-center of our thinking. Then it happens, we wake up one morning to find it’s January 1st! As the day progresses and the dust settles from the parades, football games, and eating from a buffet of left-overs, it finally settles in…it’s a new year.

Turning the calendar to January impacts our thinking. We remember the year that is past, its successes and failures, its achievements and missed opportunities. Our emotions are stirred, and our memories are authentic. But now it’s a new year. We ponder the prospects and the obligations. We mentally leap ahead to calculate birthdays, anniversaries, and maybe the next grade of school for the children.

We may never share it openly with others, but in our mind, we determine that this year will be different, it will be better, or that it will be more productive. These are very natural thoughts. In a sense, we echo what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before…” Indeed, we do well to set our sights to “reach forth” for new achievements based upon high expectations.

So, we commit ourselves and our plans to be more financially responsible, more engaged with others, more fit and healthy, more conscious of time, read more (and social network less) and be more diligent in our tasks at work and home. All of which are good thoughts. However, the intent of our “do better” list is severely lacking if we have not seriously considered the priority of the spiritual elements of life. For if we claim the name of Christ, our thinking must be influenced by biblical priorities. Priorities which cannot be relegated to the bottom of the “do better” list, or even worse, ignored.

We need to consider the next part of the passage from Philippians 3. The Apostle makes the point that, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He realizes that his greatest effort is to “press on.” The original Greek word that is translated “press” means to pursue, and it’s in a tense that demands continuous and repeated action. It portrays the daily demands and disciplines of a highly prepared athlete, one who works out and practices, pushing to be the best to obtain the gold medal. Then, once that athlete reaches the goal, all the work, sweat, and even pain become faded memories.

The intent of the verse is clear. Paul conveys his desire to recognize past success, but not to be content with past success. He expresses his yearning to pursue a goal deliberately and continuously. Not a goal of material wealth, financial security, social esteem, or even religious recognition. Rather, his goal was to pursue a far more valuable reward, a victor’s crown (the prize) for faithfulness and virtue as he served the Lord…identified as the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

This same truth should impact our thinking for the new year. Let’s remember past successes, but not be content to stop there. Let’s not let past failures hold us back. Let’s not pursue the trivial and ignore the significant. Rather, like the Apostle, let us yearn for those things which have an eternal impact. Let’s commit, as born-again Christians, to our spiritual health, our spiritual growth, and our spiritual impact. We are blessed to have opportunities and resources to do all three, but nothing will change unless we make the commitment.

The ministries of our church, whether they are on-site or off-site, impact several hundred people each week. The worship services, the BSF groups, and the mid-week services are the essential on-site events that allow God’s word to impact our thinking and our spiritual growth. These are also opportunities to serve, and not just to be served. Our outreach ministries add many other opportunities to be involved. That’s why on the 15th and 22nd of this month, we will have ministry enlistment after the worship services. Come find out where your hands, your heart, and your talents can be used as we all “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” during the year ahead.

Dr. Harlie Miller, Executive Pastor

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Leaves are Changing, Are you?

Fall appears to be in full force, with cooler weather, changing leaves, and of course Chick-Fil-A’s new autumn milkshake. Fall has always been associated with change. The seasons themselves illustrate a cycle of change. Christians often reference parts of their lives as seasons. Why is this analogy made so often? One word, change. First and foremost, the change that happens when we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, the One and only Savior and Fountain of Eternal Life. After that, we aren't called to be the same as we once were, but to continually be changed by the living God with whom we now have a relationship as we submit to the Holy Spirit living within us. So, you must ask yourself, am I changing? Where am I in my walk with God? Closer or further away? Or am I the same as I was at this time last year…caught in the repetition of schedules, problems, and exhaustion.  


The fast-paced life we are pressured to live can cause nothing but stress on us, our family, and our relationships. So how do we continue to grow? One way, Jesus, and His word. We see the disciples' growth throughout His ministry on earth. What was the reason behind their growth and success in ministry? It was not a “what” but a “who,” it was Jesus.  


What did Jesus do best?  He spent time with the Father. In Mark 1:35 and Luke 4:42, Jesus sets out to pray early in the morning and to be alone with the Father before the day begins. The success of a Christian is not themselves, no more than salvation is something of our own doing. It is the work of God and all for His Glory. We go about our day focused on work, families, life stresses, and then are surprised when we look back and see a lack of growth and a lack of change over the passing seasons.  


If I attend church every Sunday and are active in church service, then shouldn't it be working? What's missing from the equation? There is something that church can’t do for you, that you must choose to do. Spend time with God. Commit your day and your life to Him. Fully surrender and let Him change you for the best of what he's called you to do. Do you want the “peace that passes all understanding” for you and your family? Do you want real change this fall and in the future? Then wake up daily to make God your priority this season and every season. 


Kobie Heath, Youth Director

Thursday, September 1, 2022

What does worship look like?

What does worship look like? I’ll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with fashion, hairstyles or abilities. So, what does worship look like? Colossians 3:16-17. True worship is a lifestyle. It can be demonstrated through our words and actions. Of course, God can be worshipped corporately as well. His presence is manifested where believers gather to lift His name high, according to Matthew 18:20. God is looking at the heart. He’s not necessarily looking at whether or not we are lifting our hands in church. Can lifted hands be an expression of worship? Yes. But it is also possible to worship God physically but not wholeheartedly. Isaiah 29:13  

So, what does worship look like? It can look like you are singing to the top of your lungs in the car driving down the road. It can look like you are sitting quietly in deep prayer and thought with God. It can look like you and a group of people talking about how good God has been to you. It can look like a congregation gathered together on Sunday Morning to sing and praise God. It can look like many things. 

But whatever we are looking for when we come to worship, we will find. Will you let the events of the past week hinder your worship? Will you let the enemy steal your joy of worship? How does this happen? We have a duty to prepare our hearts for worship. We cannot rely on a person or a group of people to lead us into worship. We must come with a heart of worship. If we come looking for faults, we will find them. We all need to realize worship is personal. It is our personal responsibility to make sure our hearts are ready to worship God. If not, we have hindered our worship of God.  

To serve God is to worship Him. To love Him is to worship Him. We must be careful not to let things of the world take the place of God. Our hearts only have room for one. We must guard against worshipping with the wrong attitude or heart. This week will you allow God to show you if there is anything that is a hindrance to your worship of Him? 

I challenge you next time you are at church to pray for the ones leading. Pray for the musicians, pray for the Pastors. Pray for God to move in our presence. Listen to the words and let God speak to you. Don’t worry about who may be looking at you or what someone may say if you raise your hand towards Heaven or shout Amen. Don’t worry about who, what, or even when. Just let God minister to you in a way maybe you’ve not been open to before. Let God speak to you in worship. Yes, I know we all worship differently. But if we come with an open heart, that our only purpose today is to worship God and I’m here to personally experience what God has for me, then your entire worship experience will be different. We, yes, I said we, are so programmed that if God does not move in a certain time frame, we are ok with it. If we ever realize that God inhabits the praises of His people, we will then understand what true worship is. It’s time we stop letting the enemy rob us of our joy in the Lord. It’s time we come to church to worship and fellowship with God. It's time we put aside petty differences and focus on building the kingdom and not just our own little castles. You must make it a point to commit yourself to worship, not just in a group setting at church on Sunday, but you must commit to daily worship one on one with God. So, now I ask you once again, what does worship look like? 

 - JT Mahaffey, Interim Worship Director

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Especially for Parents and Grand-Parents

    “Back to School” is a phrase that sets off a variety of responses and emotions.  Parents, teachers, students, coaches, and retail store owners all have different views of what a new school year means.  Whatever the viewpoint, no one disagrees on the importance of education.  Learning is an essential part of what it means to grow-up, mature, and become a productive member of a family and community.  We foresee our children growing into adults that are mentally and physically competent, economically stable, ethically balanced, and for Christian families, biblically grounded in truth.  

  We are blessed to have schools, institutes, and colleges of many types, all with essential facilities and even luxuries, especially when compared to other countries. In America, students start school at an early age and can attend until high school graduation.  After which, there are many options for college, career, or military pursuits.  American teachers have college degrees and professional training.  Beyond the academics, schools provide meals, technology, music, and sports programs.  Additionally, there’s a robust home school movement that provides the most authentic opportunity for parents to be involved in their children’s education. Communities rally to support their local programs as they strive to inspire students to success.  However, what we often take for granted is not true in many countries, where facilities are meager, teachers often have only a high school education, students may not attend past age 13, there’s no extra-curricular activities, and there are limited opportunities for further education beyond high school.

   Over the years, I have had the opportunity to teach, preach, and speak in Communist, Muslim, and third-world countries, all of which allowed me to see a variety of educational settings.  In Bangladesh, I saw children go to school carrying a bucket, which served as a book bag and lunch pail as they went, and once they arrived, was turned over to become their seat for the day.  Village schools in the Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea were small block buildings with only basic resources and no technology.  I taught overseas at a school where the power went out every day, sometimes for minutes but often for hours.  I taught at a Chinese university with facilities that would rival many American campuses.  I spoke at a Christian school in Malaysia that was highly desired by Muslim families because it offered an “American” style of education.  In each country, I met students of all ages who desired to come to America to further their education.  While American schools have many challenges, we are blessed to live where education is the “gold standard” of opportunity and remains the envy of millions around the world.

   However, the last few years have revealed the dark underside of many educational settings.  What’s been revealed are theories that pervert the meaning of life, the distinctions of gender, the value of faith, and the definition of family.  What’s been shown is an intent to not just educate students, but to indoctrinate them in un-American and ungodly belief systems.  This reality, combined with many cultural oppositions, means Christian parents must intensify their diligence to know what is being taught to their children and who is teaching them.  

   It’s important to remember that among its truths, the Bible has much to say about education.  Training and learning are regular themes throughout the Scriptures.  This emphasizes the importance of parents to prioritize the educational opportunities that are available at church.  From nursery to adulthood, there are many opportunities to learn about truth from God’s word.  To ignore church education is to willingly contribute to a child’s “miss-education,” causing them to miss truth, miss reality, miss God, and miss Heaven.

   On Sunday, August 28 we will celebrate “Back to School” in the morning service.  It’s an opportunity to remember, reflect, and recognize the importance of education, not just from a vocational or social perspective, but most importantly, from a biblical perspective.  This will be an opportunity to hear a biblical answer to the question, “What does it mean to be well educated?”  Education holds great potential, but when not understood correctly nor applied properly, it becomes an empty promise that leads to a hollow future.  Thankfully, God’s Word provides the essential answers.  Our responsibility is to understand and apply those answers so that we maximize the potential of what education can and should be for our children.

 - Dr. Harlie Miller, Executive Pastor

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Vacation Bible School

 VBS, A term I'm sure you're familiar with by now, is a typical highlight for the month of June. For many churches Vacation Bible School is one of the biggest evangelistic outreach events of the year. A busy week balancing work, kids, and late evenings at church, which can often lead to being tired and wondering how much does your involvement matter? Are my own kids getting a meaningful experience out of it? They surely have enough volunteers, right? These thoughts can flood our mind as often we may not see the immediate effect of our efforts in ministry. We can miss out on amazing opportunities God has for us. 


As a child, I don't remember very much from my time in and out of church. But I recall every summer my grandmother would ask us to come with her to VBS at her church. A small church down in Liberty, with 20-30 kids at most on a good year. I would reluctantly go, and only because my grandmother asked. Out of all my experience with church growing up, those small little VBSs are what I remember most. At the time, I didn't want to be there and most of the volunteers serving probably could see my disinterest. 


Today, I can recall times of seeing these leaders jump into prayer when someone needed it, treat me with so much love, and strive to make it an awesome week. It's those moments that helped me during the struggles of my high school and college life. It's the people involved showing Christ through their actions. So, while you may feel burnt out, and tired, hold fast to Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” You may just find, as a volunteer, what you get out of it is priceless. 


The lives and eternities of so many children are touched by Vacation Bible Schools each year. Additionally, there’s probably millions of dollars raised for missions. As a church family let’s come together, get involved, and make a lasting impact sharing the Love of God. 

Kobie Heath,
Youth Director

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

What’s the biggest challenge our church faces?

Think about it for a moment…what is the biggest obstacle to our congregation’s future and our capacity to be a thriving assembly committed to serving the Lord, declaring truth, and proclaiming the Gospel message?  There are certainly some worthy ideas; among them are these challenges of secular, cultural, and spiritual natures:

·      Legal challenges which put up obstacles to our ability to minister away from church property.

·      Cultural challenges that seek to minimize and even eliminate the need for churches. 

·      Political challenges by those who want to restrict the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. 

·      Educational challenges by those who claim the church is irrelevant in the 21st century.

·      Financial challenges created by COVID, inflation, and a reduction in tithes and offerings.

·      Demonic challenges by the forces of evil which always resist the work of God.

Certainly, these are issues that can’t be ignored.  Additionally, it wouldn’t take long to think of other challenges that could either restrict our existence or our effectiveness.  That’s why I was surprised that Dr. Mark Dever (Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.), in his book, Twelve Challenges Churches Face, put none of these issues in his book.  Indeed, the first issue he addressed was forgetfulness, which seemed like an odd place to start.  However, once I finished that chapter, I agreed, it was a wise choice.  

That chapter of the book caused me to pursue more about what the Bible says about remembering, for indeed, the Bible constantly echoes the obligation of not forgetting, consider for example:

·      …remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. (Num. 15:40)

·      …remember all the ways which the Lord thy God led thee… (Deut. 8:2)

·      Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God… (Deut. 8:11)

·      Remember his marvelous works that he has done… (I Chron. 16:12)

·      I will remember the works of the Lord: Ps. 77:11

·      And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. (Ps. 78:35)

·      Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Ps. 103:2)

·      Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth… (Eccl. 12:1)

Dr. Dever focuses the priority of not forgetting the blessings and faithfulness of the Lord.  Truly, if we forget what the Lord has done for us and how faithful the Lord has been, then we set ourselves on a path of ruin. 

So, let’s be reminded, and often remind ourselves, of the Lord’s blessings on us as individuals and families, and on us as a congregation.  This month we celebrate eighty-three years as an assembly formed into a local church, and we must not forget the Lord’s blessings and His faithfulness over these many decades. 

To us as individuals, God has been faithful to provide the gift of salvation by grace and through faith in the sacrifice of Christ; He has provided us with a purpose to life and a future eternity that far exceeds anything the world has to offer; He has provided us with the Bible and the promises He has recorded for all generations.

To us as a congregation, God has been faithful to provide a pastor with strong commitments to the Gospel, the ministry of preaching, and the priority of family; God has assembled here a diversity of people with various abilities and gifts to strengthen the church; He has provided us with a wonderful facility to use as a house of worship and as a launching pad for outreach and evangelization.

Therefore, let us diligently strive to say off the path of ruin because of our forgetfulness and ungratefulness.  Let us always remember, and not forget, as Ephesians 1:3 says, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

Dr. Harlie Miller,
Executive Pastor

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Happy Spring


April is a month of celebrations for our family! We celebrate and rejoice over five family members that God has blessed us with that were all born in April. But much more than that, we remember, commemorate, rejoice over and celebrate a Risen Savior this month! The Lord Jesus was really dead and He really came back to life, just like He said He would. The resurrection of Christ makes all the difference, in everything! Let’s acknowledge and celebrate the real meaning of Easter!


Because He lives, we can face today and tomorrow!

Because He lives, we have meaning to life and a purpose, so life is worth living. 

Because He lives, we no longer live under condemnation because our sins are forgiven. We have been set free from the law of sin and death once and for all.

Because He lives, families can laugh together and enjoy life together. 

When we lose loved ones, we have the assurance that we will see them again, because He lives!

We can face all the difficulties and disappointments in life because He lives!

We have hope, joy and peace because He lives!

We can have the strength to live right and resist temptation because He lives!


How exciting that we can live with confidence and hope, knowing that “he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11


“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:3,4

On that third day, God raised Jesus to life.  He delivered the fatal blow to sin and death.  The life that was lost in the Garden was now restored through the resurrection.  That is why Jesus came, so that we might have life.


Let’s celebrate! Jesus is alive!  Jesus was raised completely victorious over sin and death. He lives! 

We look forward to seeing each of you as we come together in our regular and special services at the church through-out the month of April!


Love in Christ, 

Pastor Paul, Senior Pastor

A New Look at the New Year

We knew it was coming. We had anticipated it for several days, even though it wasn’t necessarily front-and-center of our thinking. Then it...