December 2018 GRACE AND COST As we have been sharing in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I have become more aware of how much has changed by our salvation. Not only are we saved from Hell and from a broken relationship to God, we have been forgiven, accepted, and even exalted in our relationship to our heavenly Father. We have a new position in His Kingdom and a new responsibility to our Lord’s mission in this world. All we receive and all we will do are by His GRACE. This is wonderful but it came at such a cost. Imagine how glorious heaven is and remember that Jesus was worshipped there. But God chose to send Him to earth, to a place filled with sin and hate, where He would demonstrate holy love. Where He entered as a poor child and was born in a stable. He gave up all the praise of the angels to receive the ridicule of mankind. His gave His body and His blood that you and I would belong to Him and be His forever. Make sure your Christmas giving and celebration relate to the gift that was given by our Lord. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5 (NKJV) Blessings! November 2018 Gratitude is an often neglected virtue. Although we are glad for the blessings or the help we too often fail to say “Thank You”. We fail to thank those who serve, we fail to thank those who make special efforts, we fail to thank God for His wonders in our lives. Gratitude should not be something we say on occasion. It should be our heart’s reaction to all we see, all we have, and all the blessings around us. It should be lifestyle and heartfelt. Gratitude does several things for us. First, it is a simple return for what we receive. Not a payment but rather an acknowledgement. Second, it removes the focus from me (the recipient) to the giver. Third, it makes us a little more aware of all we have received. Finally, it pleases God when we express our gratitude to Him and to others. Make November a month where you show how grateful you truly are. Blessings! Steve October 2018 October is one of my favorite months. It is the month of fall colors and the changing to cooler, crisper weather. These changes remind me of the Creator and the infinite beauty He shows us. The other realization is that we are in the last quarter of the year. It is time to finish some of those projects we had wanted to get done. It is a great time to celebrate accomplishments and set goals for the future. Here at Rocky Mount it is also a time to rejoice at what God has done and anticipate His victories ahead. I hope you are making plans for Homecoming – Sunday, October 28th – where we will gather as family and fellow believers to celebrate our Lord. I hope you have had a blessed summer and that the fall will be overflowing with joy. Blessings! Steve September 2018 The end of summer has arrived. We tend to mark the end of the season with Labor Day rather than a couple of weeks later. Most people are looking forward to cooler days and there is an ex-citement about the start of the football season. I have been looking to the month with a strong sense of beginnings. Let me mention a few. Sunday morning we will begin the new sermon series in the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. This is a powerful letter that speaks of issues like salvation, the Christian life, the church, relationships, and much more. It is an exciting and fast moving book and it is also extremely practical. We also have new and exciting activities for the young people. Andrew Kirkland is coming on board to help guide our youth in the area of discipleship. There will be some wonderful things happening. We may be getting some of the “old” youth to help out. (Actually, it could be the parents of youth but I think they are still young!) The Bible Clubs will continue through September. We have had good participation by the kids at Sunset and by the folk from Rocky Mount. Come out and join us for the opportunity. Starts at 6:30 each Wednesday evening. We will be adding a prayer and Bible study time to the schedule to follow the Bible Clubs. It will be open to all but especially for those who cannot get out to the Bible Clubs but want to have a midweek worship and prayer service. (The Bible Club folk are more than welcome, too.) There is more! Read the Newsletter and see. There might even be some surprises. We are seeking to Share the Savior, Show our Love, and Serve His Kingdom. Come and Join us. Blessings! August 2018 When did you last climb a mountain? When did you last ride the rapids? When did you last wade into shark infested waters? (That does not include watching shark week on the Discovery Channel!) It seems we lose some of our enthusiasm for adventure and challenges as we get older. Perhaps just facing the day to day grind of being an adult or having to pay the bills each month is enough of a struggle for us. But I feel that we have lost something important when we give up on doing new and exciting things. That does not mean I want to go do some death defying stunt but it does mean that I would like to do some new things, to face some new challenges, to accomplish some new things. This should be true for all of us. We should look at the life God has given us as exciting, joyous, and far more interesting. We should try new foods, see new places, talk to new people, share Jesus with different groups. School is starting back. Surely there will be new people, new activities, new tasks. The many different activities of church will provide new possibilities to be involved and do things for the glory of the Lord. There are nearby mountains to climb. There are rapids to be overcome. If you have swam in the Gulf of Mexico there were sharks nearby! Be open to the Lord’s leadership and He will provide an adventure that will bless you. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 Blessings! Pastor Steve
July 2018 This past week I broke a long-standing tradition and ordered something other than Chicken and Dumplings at the Cracker Barrel. Yea, I know, I am just trying to live a little on the wild side! This brings me back to the reason for this article. Doing Something Different. The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate with picnics and fireworks but how about being a little different ? How about writing a letter of encouragement to a friend? How about visiting a shut in? How about going to a movie with the Grands? Beyond this. Try to celebrate the Fourth by sharing good news about America? Take a moment and praise the freedoms you have. Find a quiet place and simply thank God for your nation. God has blessed us and we remain the most blessed nation in history. Make the Fourth a joyous time for yourself, your family, and your community. Blessings! Pastor Steve June 2018 During the next few Sundays we will be talking about what is necessary for a spiritual awakening to occur in a nation, in a church, and in the life of an individual. Most Christians desire such an experience but too few have had a renewal. Few of us have seen the power that turns the church and the world right side up. I believe that God desires for us to live a life that is filled with joy and promise and that is what renewal does. I shared on Sunday that the first step is in survey, know the reality of the situation. The next step is seek. (This will be the theme of Sunday morning’s sermon.) The third step is to strive to obey and advance. The fourth step is to stand against the onslaught of the enemy. The fifth is to show the world what God has done. There are lots of details tied to these and they will lead in the direction of a spiritual renewal. But, the renewal is not done by us or by following a set of rules or steps. Renewal comes when we present ourselves to God and He pours His Spirit into us. Paul describes it as presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice and that is when the Spirit will do great things. This means brokenness on our part and emptying of pride and self. When we are empty and clean vessels, God will use us in ways we have never imagined. We will then know revival. I pray that it will happen soon. Blessings! Pastor Steve
May 2018 May is a wonderful month. I have always enjoyed the celebration of spring and the joy of being out-outdoors. It rarely has those super hot days or sudden cold. It is the month of bright colored flowers and the first few items of the garden becoming ripe. It is a month of laughter, and joy. This year, it is going to be an opportunity of praise and celebration at Rocky Mount. May 3rd is the National Day of Prayer. We will have the church open for the day so that anyone may come by and have a time of prayer. We will be praying for the Nation, our community, our church, and for God’s work in each of our lives. May is also the month for our Graduates: Emily Driver (University of West Georgia) and Eva Grace Horsley (Holy Ground Baptist Academy). We are proud of their achievements and hard work they have done but even prouder of the commitment they have each made to the Lord Jesus and to His church here at Rocky Mount. We also will be celebrating Mother's Day on the 13th. The work of the Mother is the most impactful of all jobs. We are so grateful for godly mothers who care for the family and at the same time proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ. There is a primary election on May 22nd and we will be choosing candidates for the General election. Please prayerfully consider each candidate. There is also a ballot issue concerning alcohol sales on Sunday. I will not tell you how to vote but I have never known the extension of the sale and use of alcohol to be a benefit to a community. Finally, the last Monday in May is Memorial Day. Traditionally, this is the kickoff to summer and is a great day for family and friends. I hope you have a tremendous celebration but I ask you to take a moment during the day to remember those who gave their lives for the freedom that we have to celebrate. Have a great May! Pastor Steve p.s. May the Fourth be with you.