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August 7, 2018, 8:13 PM

August 8, 2018

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

How often do you hear this question: Do I have to go to church to be saved? That question is coming up more and more in daily conversations. The short answer is no. However, there is a much deeper issue. Why would you not want to go to church? The number one answer to that question has to do with “hypocrites”. You probably hear that same excuse over and over. There are hypocrites in every walk of life. You work with them, go to church with them and are probably friends with them. Would you allow someone to keep you from worshipping God corporately? Would you allow someone to keep you from times of fellowship and spiritual maturity? Would you allow that “hypocrite” to keep you from having an encouraging impact on someone else? When we allow hypocrites to keep us away from church, we miss some of the greatest blessings God has for us.

What is the Church all about anyway? What are the functions of the Church? We will examine two of those functions this week. The church should be about evangelism. Scripture tells us very plainly that we are to be reaching out to those who are far away from Jesus. We reach out by sharing the message of Jesus with as many people as we can. We reach out by ministering to those around us who are in need. We reach out by developing real relationships with people so that we can be an example of truth to them. We may be the only Jesus some will ever see. Exaltation is when we join together as a local body to worship God. Whenever the early church gathered together they spent time in corporate worship. Everyone was coming together for the purpose of praising the name of Jesus. We need this time of worship together to draw us close as a family.

It is easy to make excuses for not attending worship. Many say they can worship alone at home while listening to television preachers. Others say they can worship God in nature while hunting or fishing. While these may be true, God’s Word instructs us to gather for corporate worship. Look carefully at the passage above. We are not to forsake meeting together because we need each other. Corporate worship draws us together like nothing else and gives us the opportunity to encourage each other. You may not need encouraging today but there will be a time when you need Christians around you. Why would anyone desire to miss that? Christians should be the ones who can get along despite differences, lay aside personal preferences for the good of the family, and overcome obstacles that negatively affect our worship. In this way, we truly worship God and encourage each other to be bold in our faith. May we thank God for the privilege of corporate worship and make every effort to participate. You will be richly blessed!

                                                                                                                                        We love you,

                                                                                                                                        Brad and Virginia

July 31, 2018, 1:28 PM

August 1. 2018

How would you finish this statement: I love God because.… We could all spend a long time answering that statement. It makes us pause and think of all the ways God blesses us each day. Listen to the words of Psalm 116: 1-2:

“I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore, I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”

Pause today to give thanks to God for the many blessings you enjoy. Thank Him most of all for allowing you to have a relationship with Him through His Son, our Savior, Jesus.

Can you believe that another church year is just around the corner? There are so many opportunities to serve God in our church and community. Please consider prayerfully how God desires to use you to accomplish His plan. It was great having Ken Adams and Paul Smith with us Saturday to remind us that God has called us to be and build disciples. We are currently working on specific strategies to make Plant City a disciple-making church. In many ways, we have lost sight of the purpose God has for His children in a dark world. It is easy to become selfish as we enjoy our salvation while others have no relationship with God. Our prayer is that the excitement we experienced Saturday will continue into the new year and beyond. We also pray that we all feel God’s presence among us and sense His calling for our church.

As part of our deacon rotation, we will have deacon election on August 12. Remember, the office of deacon is one of service in our church and beyond. We want all that we do to be showered with prayer and for God to lead us to obey His will. Without prayer, we will never accomplish God’s plan. Please be in prayer for the one who will join our deacons to serve for the next three years.

Homecoming is just around the corner. Please continue to invite friends, neighbors, and former members as we celebrate a fun-filled day of worship. We are looking forward to having Andy Buchanan back to preach for us that day. We will also have Heartline joining us again this year to lead us in worship. It will be a wonderful day as we worship and fellowship with family and friends. Please make your plans to be here. It is so exciting to see what God is doing among us! It is such a blessing to see God at work in the lives of our people and to know that He is using us to carry out the Great Commission in our community.

May you have many opportunities to share the message of Jesus this week and may God’s blessings be yours in abundance as we serve Him together.

                                                                                                                 We love you,

                                                                                                                                                                            Brad and Virginia

July 10, 2018, 11:59 AM

July 11, 2018

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”         Romans 12:2

Is it possible to have Christianity without Christ? Is it possible to gain knowledge about God and His Word without being transformed? Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ”. We’ve experienced a major breakdown in America: politically, socially, and morally. Yet, the greatest breakdown we’ve seen in this nation is the failure of Christians to carry out the Great Commission. We’ve failed to make disciples of Jesus and it is literally destroying us from within.

Are we a discipling church? If so, is our discipleship transformational? What if we caught the vision of transformational discipleship? Transformation means change. You see, without Jesus, our efforts are not transformational because it will leave people in the same spiritual condition. It is only in and through Jesus that real change takes place in our lives and the lives of others. Consider the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The knowledge and skills they learned had an impact on their lives and on the lives of others, but their hearts were not truly transformed. They ended up leading the people away from God’s grace. Could we be guilty of doing the same?

What about our young people today? You can be assured they are being taught in numerous ways by the world. Through countless marketing schemes, our young people are being targeted daily. The world is constantly seeking to conform inquiring minds to its ways. The passage above reminds us that our minds must be renewed by a transformation. True transformation occurs only when a person has a relationship with God by faith in Jesus. Anything else will leave you side-tracked, depressed, and constantly seeking something real. Folks, we have the only real truth. We must be sharing with others, spending time with them, and helping them understand Scripture. Discipleship takes time and effort. Our prayer is that we become focused on the need for discipleship and the command God has given us to make disciples. May we truly become a disciple-making church!

                                                                                                                                                                      We love and appreciate all of you,

                                                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

June 26, 2018, 12:10 PM

June 27, 2018

“The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:11-12

In a few weeks, we celebrate our nation’s independence. God has blessed us beyond measure, yet we have failed miserably in many ways. It would be wonderful if we consistently acknowledged God’s plans and purposes. Our nation has become divided on so many issues which shows the extent to which we have abandoned God. The division reveals a lack of knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. Our culture has decided that we, not God, know the best for our future and can stand alone. The truth is that God’s plans stand forever whereas our plans consistently fail.

Are we concerned about the direction of our nation? I hear a resounding yes! We feel somewhat better under the current Administration but there continues to be an overwhelming hatred for the truth. We probably all feel an uneasiness about our situation. Most of us feel as though there is nothing we can do. After all, what can one person do? There is no doubt that the problem is far beyond the scope of one person. However, what if Christians began to take the Great Commission of Jesus seriously? What if we desired to make a difference in the lives of those around us? What if we listened to God’s voice and discipled new Christians rather than allow them to “learn” on their own? What if Christians lived an exemplary lifestyle that others could see and follow? What if we desired to be like Jesus and willingly serve Him daily?

There is good news and bad news. More than likely, our culture will continue its dreadful push away from God. However, the Church is still here and God’s presence through the Holy Spirit remains with us. Please pray with us that God will not completely take His hand from our nation. We need revival! Revival is about God causing a stir in our own heart. Revival begins with us and spreads to affect others. We have heard continually over the past several weeks about God’s plan and purpose. We must continue to focus on His purpose if we seek to make any difference at all.

We pray that you all have a very happy and safe fourth of July! Also, please remember the Disciple-making Church seminar coming on July 28. We would love to have as many of you as possible join us for the day. It will be a time to remember and focus on what God has called us to do. Please clear your calendar for that day and be sure to sign the registration sheet in the foyer!

                                                                                                                                      We love you,

                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

June 12, 2018, 1:45 PM

June 13, 2018

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  Joshua 24:15 
     What does it mean to be responsible?  That sounds like a strange question, but we live in a culture that constantly casts blame on others.  We often hear the phrase ?it's not my fault?.  It is always much easier to blame someone else rather than take responsibility for our own actions.  The attitude of blaming someone else goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  Eve blamed the devil for her actions whereas Adam blamed Eve.  Adam also went so far as to blame God for even creating the woman to be with him.  We haven't made progress over the years and each generation seems less responsible.
     We all have a problem accepting responsibility.  Some struggle more than others.  Until we understand our salvation in Christ, we really do not fully understand taking responsibility.  The only way that we can be saved is to take responsibility for our sinful life by admitting guilt and fault.  Once we admit that we indeed are guilty of sin and need a savior, we can then accept the only remedy available to us.  The only remedy we have for sin is the blood of Jesus shed on Calvary's cross.  All this talk about responsibility brings up the day we will celebrate this Sunday.  Dads, its Father's Day, and you have a huge responsibility!  You are to be the spiritual leader of your home.  There are many passages that address that role.  One of the major problems we face today is that fathers are not fulfilling the role for which God has called them. 
     We know that the home is, and has been for quite some time, in turmoil.  Children are growing up without the continual presence of a male role model.  The male role model they do see does not serve as the spiritual leader.  God intends for the home to be the primary place where children learn about Jesus.  God also intends for spiritual training to be a part of a daily routine.  Who does God expect to be that spiritual leader?  Dads!  We must remember that whatever task God gives us to accomplish (including spiritual leadership), He will always thoroughly equip us.  Parents often seem to forget that there will be an accounting as to whether their children were taught and nurtured in the ways of Jesus.  There is no time like the present for making changes.  You can start today being the dad that God has called you to be.  Even if your children are grown, you can make changes now that can affect generations to come.  We pray that you are all having a great week and to all our dads ?Happy Father's Day!

                                                                                                                                      We love you,
                                                                                                                                      Brad and Virginia

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