Love God. Link with others. Learn to follow. Live on mission.

Acts 1:8 ....and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seven Traits of a Successful Employee: Lessons from Kenny Washington

It was not one of those days that I expected. Indeed, my schedule included several items that I have done more than once in my eight years at LifeWay. One of those was our “Pursuit of Excellence” chapel, where we recognize several outstanding employees.
Our executive vice president, Brad Waggoner, called each name before a packed chapel. The employees in the audience had a brochure with photos and accomplishments of the recipients of the award. As the names were called, those in attendance expressed appreciation with hearty applause.
Then it happened.
Brad called the name “Kenny Washington,” and the place went crazy. It was not simply applause but screams of delight. I had never heard anything like it in my days at LifeWay. Brad and I looked at each other, and we mouthed the same question: “Who is this guy?”
We would soon discover more about this incredible employee named Kenny Washington.
A Man Named Kenny
Brad and I took Kenny to lunch recently. On the one hand, we wanted to honor him for his service to LifeWay. On the other hand, we wanted to learn from him. There was something about Kenny our employees understood. We in the executive office needed to learn that as well.
I hope Kenny didn’t view our lunch as an inquisition. I just had to learn more about this man.
Kenny was born the eighth of nine children to Christian parents, though his mother had the greater influence. He came to LifeWay almost 25 years ago and works in mail services. He also serves in the National Guard reserves. His most recent deployment was in Afghanistan. We got to hear incredible stories of his diving for the bunker as rockets sailed over his head.
But my question focused on his work as an employee. Simply stated, Kenny Washington is one of the most incredible employees I’ve ever known. Here are his “secrets” to work success.
Keys to Being a Successful Employee
In the course of 90 minutes, Kenny shared with us a wealth of information. Though I am the president and CEO of the company, I was really the student learning from the teacher. Here are the seven lessons I learned:
1.     View your work as a gift. Kenny has absolutely no sense of entitlement. He views his opportunity to work as a gift from God, and he treats it as such every day.
2.     Seek to serve your fellow employees. Because his job is in mail services, Kenny gets to know a lot of fellow employees in LifeWay’s corporate offices in downtown Nashville. He sees his work as an opportunity to serve others. Indeed, he takes every opportunity to do for others on a daily basis.
3.     Have a great work ethic. When Kenny described his work ethic, he made me tired! He said he never gets tired because he finds so much joy in what he does.
4.     Do more than your job requires. Kenny told me about saving the organization money when he found a way to cut one division’s postage costs. You won’t find that assignment anywhere in his job description. He is always looking for areas to serve beyond what is expected of him.
5.     Accentuate the positive. This man does not have his head in the sand. He knows there is no perfect place to work, including LifeWay. But he chooses to focus on what is good rather than complain about the negative. That outlook makes his disposition positive, cheery, and optimistic.
6.     Accept responsibility. I bet Kenny Washington has never blamed a co-worker or a boss for his work. I bet he has never succumbed to the victim mentality. His entire perspective is that he is responsible for his work, and he must do it with excellence.
7.     Seek to improve your skill set. Kenny has seen a lot of change in the world in 25 years. He’s seen a lot of change at LifeWay too. He knows that he must constantly upgrade and improve himself to remain a successful employee—and he does.
Lessons Learned
As my dad used to say, “He really schooled me.” Kenny Washington taught me so much. He inspired me so greatly. He motivated me so powerfully.
Thank you, Kenny. Employees can learn so much from you. Employees in the secular world. Employees in churches. And employees at LifeWay.

Including one employee who happens to have the title of “president and CEO.”

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Baptist Faith and Message Study

What do Baptists Believe and Why?

SBC Baptist Faith and Message Study

What makes Baptists, and all the more Southern Baptists different and distinct from other Christian denominations?


If you are Baptist, Anabaptist, Maybe-Baptist, or just curious about Baptists, all are free to join us at EBC for Discipleship Training Class as we study "Baptist Faith & Message" Sunday nights at 6PM.

This study examines in detail the 18 doctrines outlined in the Baptist Faith and Message statement. Combining biblical insight with historical and contemporary illustrations, the study helps you understand essential Baptist beliefs, identify the biblical foundation for these beliefs, and apply the beliefs to your Christian walk.

The study guide provides biblical commentary from three noteworthy SBC leaders: Charles S. (Chuck) Kelley Jr., president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Richard D. Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Expand your understanding as Baptist doctrine is brought to life through engaging historical and contemporary illustrations and applications. Participants will learn of basic Baptist beliefs, the biblical foundation for these beliefs, and suggestions in how to apply these beliefs to their individual Christian walks.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday Night Prayer Service - Weather Call

Emmanuel Baptist Church

Due to the icy roads, downed trees and power issues. We will cancel tonight's prayer meeting.

For prayer needs. We have a number in the body who are ill.  Tomorrow, a member has a treatment and another family has an important meeting.

Please keep these needs in prayer.

Pastor Garret

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Useful Church History


Here are ten stories from Church History that I tend to use in my ministry as the pastor of a local church. They are not listed in any particular order:

1. Monica of Hippo and Her Son Augustine: Augustine was a little hellion. He grew up to be a big hellion. His mother, the pious Monica, despaired of seeing his redemption from a life of squalor and dissipation. She was tempted to throw in the towel until her pastor told her, “Woman, the child of so many tears shall never perish.” I don’t know that this is always true, but it proved to be true in the life of Augustine, who was converted and became…well…Augustine!

I use this story with mothers who are worried about their children. By telling it I try to encourage them to continue to pray for their children and never to abandon the hope that God might turn them around.

2. William Carey’s Call to Ministry and Early Work: William Carey wasn’t exactly the hottest commodity among Baptist churches in the midland counties. It took a lot of convincing to get a small church to call him as their pastor. But his sheer indefatigability carried him a long way. Of course, the calling of God eventually sent him to India, where he labored seven years without a single convert in spite of severe emotional and physical loss. Unbeknownst to him or to those who supported his ministry, those seven years laid the foundation for one of the most successful missionary stories in the modern age.

I use this story to encourage church members to stay the course in ministry situations that are difficult. I used it extensively as we were preparing to adopt a UUPG in Senegal, wanting our church to understand that we might not see immediate results, but that it is important to persevere even if we do not.

3. Thomas Helwys’s Decision to Return to England: The early English Baptists weren’t in England at all. They had fled to the environs of Amsterdam to escape persecution in England. Thomas Helwys fell under the conviction that he had abandoned his preaching post—that he owed it to his homeland to declare the true gospel to his countrymen. He did not do so unobtrusively; he penned a missive to King James on the subject of religious liberty entitled “A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity.” As thanks for his effort, James I cast Helwys into Newgate Prison, where he died after a few years of imprisonment.

I use this story to inspire people regarding the debt we owe our neighbors to proclaim the gospel to them. Also, it works in any circumstance in which we need to instill courage in believers.

4. Hugh & Anne Bromhead’s Letter: In the earliest days of the English Baptist movement, a member of a local Baptist church wrote a letter to a concerned family member trying to explain this strange new sect to which they belonged. The letter contains a full description of a typical Lord’s Day in the life of this congregation, including hours upon hours of preaching and Bible study.
I find this letter to be useful whenever anyone says that my preaching is too long.

Also, whenever I have church members who have come to regard our Sunday schedule as an ancient sacrament, it is helpful to be able to show not only an older form of worship, but an older BAPTIST form of worship (arguments from the Gallican Mass aren’t often persuasive in SBC circles, nor should they be).

5. John Chrysostom’s Conflict with Empress Eudoxia: The great golden-tongued preacher did not have a good relationship with the Byzantine Empress Eudoxia (perhaps because he had compared her to Herodias?). Although her rage against him was harsh and eventually forced him into exile, he never backed down.

Again, like Thomas Helwys, John Chrysostom is an example of Christian courage. But his is courage of a different kind. Helwys’s is the story of an outsider who courageously proclaimed the truth although it cost him his life. Chrysostom’s is the story of an insider who refused to be seduced by wealth and power. That’s a different kind of courage, but it is courage all the same. I use this story to encourage people to be courageous and to resist corruption when tempted by wealth, fame, or power.

6. Lottie Moon: Lottie Moon didn’t start out looking like a missionary in the making. Even when she first went to China, she appeared simply to be following her sister there. The sister didn’t make it, but Lottie did. Opportunities for romance, for furlough, or for greater personal comfort did not finally succeed in diverting her attention from her efforts. She is the martyred saint of Southern Baptist missionary work.

I use her story to promote an offering we collect every Christmas for our missionaries.

7. Francis Asbury during the American Revolution: Early Methodism was, after all, a movement within Anglicanism, and Anglicanism, in turn, was the Church of where? England! When the Americans declared their independence against the British Crown, most Anglican clergy and nearly every Methodist preacher booked passage back to Mother England. Francis Asbury did not. He stayed on and consequently became the most influential man in American Methodist history.

I use this story to illustrate how much ministry credibility can be won by a pastor’s endurance through difficult times. Perseverance and shared suffering forge strong bonds that are useful in later ministry endeavors.

8. Roger Williams and Obadiah Holmes: Williams and his “Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience” made an important case in both the Americas and Great Britain for religious liberty. The story of Obadiah Holmes’s savage treatment for conducting Baptist ministry in the Massachusetts Bay Colony became Exhibit A in the evidentiary argument against religious persecution.

I use this story to help my church members to remember that religious liberty was not won for us by politicians in a constitutional convention. Also, I point them to Roger Williams’s brilliant rationale for determining which laws are permissible to the state and which ones are violations of religious conscience.

9. Manz, Grebel, and Blaurock, together with Various Anabaptist Martyrdom Stories: The treatment of Anabaptist reformers was horrific. That so much of it came at the hands not of Catholics but of other so-called “Reformers” made it only that much more perverse. Particularly the role of Zwingli is disturbing. He chased to their deaths his own students, and that for their doing what he had taught them to do—to study the Bible and obey it. The drownings and burnings were not, in the end, able to bring an utter end to the onward march of truth.

I use these stories to help people to understand their relationships with me sometimes. They have the obligation to let me point them to God’s Word. They have the obligation to leave me behind if God’s Word leads them further than I am willing to go.

10. The Early Beginnings of the Great Western Revival at the Gasper River Church: I love the way that revival came in the midst of a Lord’s Supper service. And this wasn’t just some touchy-feely wide-open Koolaid and Oatmeal Pies communion service like might be popular today. This was a communion service preceded by pastoral visitation and church discipline and good, sound ecclesiology. I love that attentiveness to the doctrine of the church was the precursor to an spiritual awakening.

I use this story sometimes to open someone’s eyes to an understanding of the role of the pastor, the role of the ordinances, and the obligations of church membership that may be far different from any understanding of those things that they have ever considered before. To see how those basics—fulfilling the role of spiritual overseer over a flock, calling people to repentance and spiritual preparation for worship—might lead to revival is, I think, an important contribution that this story makes.

I do not allege that these are the best stories in Church History. I do not allege that they are the ten stories that I OUGHT to have used the most in ministry. But for the circumstances that have come my way in local church ministry and for the stories that have stuck sufficiently with me for me to be able to use them on a moment’s notice, these are the top ten in terms of usefulness in ministry for me.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Did Jesus Take on Flesh?

by Ben Simpson

At the center of this and every Christian season is the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  This mysterious bundle of joy is none other than the eternal Son of God who took on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  That’s the very thing we celebrate here at Christmas—the enfleshing of the Son of God, the incarnation.  He was sent on a mission from the Father to save sinners, and one of the absolutely necessary things Jesus had to do to complete His mission was take on a flesh and blood body just like we have.  But, why was that so crucial?  Why did Jesus take on flesh? The Bible gives us at least ten reasons.
  1. To become like us in every way: 
Hebrews 2:16-17 tells us, For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
    It was the Cappadocian Father Gregory of Nazianzus who famously said, “That which was not assumed is not healed.”  Therefore, in order to sacrifice Himself for us and redeem every aspect of humanity, Jesus had be made like us in every way, which is impossible without taking on flesh.
  2. To become sympathetic to us: 
Hebrews 4:14-16 declares, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
    Hebrews 2:18 also tells us, For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
    By becoming like us and living on this earth for 33 years, Jesus gained firsthand knowledge of our situation.  He became intimate with our temptations, joys, weaknesses, and strengths, of course, all the while never sinning.  Because of this experience on earth in the flesh, Jesus overflows with compassion and understanding.  He’s perfectly sympathetic to us.
  3. To become our brother
: Hebrews 2:11-15 relates the following to us, For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, “I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.” 13 And again, “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
    We also read in Romans 8:29, For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
    What a glorious thought!  Jesus Christ is our brother, which is made possible only by His incarnation.
  4. To be our obedient substitute: 
Hebrews 5:7-10 teaches us, In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
    Only perfection gets one into Heaven, and we fall miserable short of that.  But, praise be to God, Jesus Christ obeyed for us.  He obeyed in our stead, as our substitute, in the flesh.  Therefore, we have the hope of Heaven through His perfect goodness.
  5. To be an example for us: 
Ephesians 5:1-2 states, Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
    1 John 2:6 further instructs, the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
    It’s good to not simply have somebody demand something, but to actually show what is demanded.  That’s why we should be so thankful that Jesus in the flesh became our example to us.  Because Jesus took on a body, we have a living, breathing example for how we are supposed to live in order to please God.
  6. To be made a perfect savior: 
Hebrews 2:10 declares, For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
    Jesus Christ was always perfect, but His perfection was demonstrated in the flesh.  From the day He was born until the day He died only to rise again, Jesus never ceased to honor the Father. Therefore, we can have absolute confidence of His perfection that makes Him the perfect Savior.
  7. To be a substitutionary sacrifice: 
In John 1:29, John the Baptist exclaimed about Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  He was pointing to the sacrificial death that Jesus would die to propitiate God’s wrath toward sinners.  But, this sacrifice is impossible with a body.  A ghost or a spirit cannot be sacrificed.  In order to be sacrificed, Jesus needed a body, and it’s for this reason we read in Hebrews 10:5, Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME.
  8. To taste death for everyone: 
Hebrews 2:9 speaks to this truth, But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
    Immortal beings by definition cannot die.  Therefore, the immortal one took on mortality when the Son of God took on flesh so that He could taste death for mankind.  Praise Jesus who died so that all who believe on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.
  9. To become the only mediator
: 1 Timothy 2:5 says, For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
    Holy God and sinful man need a go-between, and the perfect one is found in no person other than the God-man Jesus, being 100% God and 100% man.  Through His substitutionary life and death, which was confirmed through His resurrection, Jesus is now the bridge connecting God and man once again.
  10. To be the promise of our resurrection: 
1 Corinthians 15:20 tells us, But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
“First fruits” is a farming term that represents a promissory down payment.  Jesus’ resurrection is the promise that we who are His will be resurrected to life as well.  Of course, a spirit cannot actually be resurrected.  Therefore, Jesus taking on flesh is part and parcel to the doctrine of His resurrection.  Without flesh, He could have never died, and if He never died,  He could have never been resurrected, and if Jesus was never resurrected, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).  However, since Jesus did take on flesh and since Jesus died and since Jesus was resurrected, we who believe in Him can be forgiven forever and spend that forever with our Father in Heaven.  Praise God that Jesus took on flesh!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sunday, December 15th Worship Schedule

Weather Announcement 

AM Sunday School and Worship services will be canceled due to weather conditions, tomorrow December 15th.  We will be meeting at 6PM for Discipleship Training and Kids Club activities.  Be safe cleaning out your drives, walks, and vehicles in the morning.

In Him,
Pastor Garret Rain