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, December 26, 2014

13 Truths About Good Works

December 26, 2014 by Mike Leake 4 Comments

I’ve been reading The Practical Works of Richard Baxter. It is so lengthy and theologically rich that I’m confident I won’t make it through this before Jesus returns. But I am enjoying what I have read thus far.

In one particular section Baxter discusses the controversy of his day concerning good works. The papists, says Baxter, attempt to “persuade their ignorant disciples, that we account them vain and needless things”.

Almost 400 years later I believe the words of Baxter concerning good works need to be recovered. In our day I believe the charge could be made that we view good works as vain and needless things. The Puritans, like Baxter, believed much differently.

What are good works?

According to Baxter good works are “all actions internal and external, that are morally good”. But we can, says Baxter, extend that a bit and say that they are all works that are done in loving service to our Master; namely, the Lord Jesus.

I’ve summarized and contemporized these a bit but I believe it is faithful to the original. Here are 13 truths about the Christian and good works that should be considered in our day:

  1. God does not need the service of any creature.
  2. In terms of the law, no sinner can do any works which shall be deemed “good”.
  3. Christ has fulfilled the law of works, as to merit for us
  4. The redeemed are not masterless, but are governed by the Lord.
  5. Christ did not redeem us from the necessity of good works but died to restore us to a capacity and ability to perform them.
  6. Good works in their due subordination to God’s mercy and Christ’s merits and grace, are necessary and rewardable.
  7. God doesn’t need our works but he is pleased by them
  8. It is no dishonor to God that creatures should be praised for their good works.
  9. Just as God gives light to the world through the sun, so also he does good works in the world through his servants.
  10. He is most indebted to God, that is most exercised in good works. In other words, the more good works we see in our life the more we can attribute to the work of His grace.
  11. The obligation to good works is essential to us as servants of the Lord.
  12. Not the same works are required of all, nor in the same degree; but according to every man’s talent and opportunities.
  13. God looks to the heart more than to external action.

(Taken from The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, p.111)

One other note from Baxter…

There is quote running around from Tim Keller that I continue to see time and again. It is something to the effect of us needing to even repent of our good works. In the context, I know that Keller means that when we come to Christ we must repent of our self-righteous efforts to please God apart from Christ. To that, I give a hearty “Amen!”

But I’ve noted that some stretch this quote a bit much–as if believers have no ability to produce good works and that we must repent of even the good things we do. I’m not sure the Puritans would agree. I found this quote from Baxter (on point #9 above) interesting:

Christ was far from their opinion that think all good works that are attributed to good men are dishonorable to God.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

EBC Thanksgiving Dinner

Family and Friends of Emmanuel Baptist Church, we invite you and your family to attend our annual Thanksgiving dinner this Saturday.

Thanksgiving dinner begins at 6PM Saturday. Dinner will be held at the South Central Baptist Associational building across the field, north of the church.

At dinner, the church is providing the meat. Families are welcome to bring side dishes, salads, desserts, and drinks. In addition, kids craft activities will be provided.

Attending guest families are asked to provide the number attending by calling 717-367-7236, or emailing

Hope you and your family are able to attend this Thanksgiving celebration.

Pastor Garret

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 Reasons Why Friends and Family Struggle to Believe the Gospel

By Chuck Lawless

Southeastern Seminary, where I work, challenged all students, staff, and faculty to share the gospel at least once a day during the month of September. Based on my experiences that month, in addition to years of sharing Christ with family members, here are my thoughts about why my family and friends struggle with believing the gospel.

  1. They have never really heard the gospel. The more I speak to people in North America, the more I realize this truth: some folks on our continent are just as distant from the gospel as unreached people groups around the world. Within the shadows of our church buildings are people who have never heard the truth.
  2. They struggle understanding the Bible. Even for those who are willing to read the Bible, the content is often new – and challenging. If genuine believers wrestle with interpreting the Bible, it shouldn’t surprise us that non-believers face the same battle.
  3. They see the gospel as too good to be true. The story of the gospel really is quite astounding. That the one and only creator God would forgive our sins, make us whole, place us in His family, and indwell us is hard to fathom, especially if the story is new. Nobody I know – believer or unbeliever – fully grasps God’s work of salvation.
  4. They see hypocrisy in the church. I’ve heard this general excuse for years, but more recently I’ve heard the words with specificity. “I don’t expect people to be perfect,” a family member told me, “but if _______ represents what a Christian is, I don’t want to be a part.” We may defend the church all we want, but we must not forget that watching unbelievers see the reality in our lives.
  5. They hear other messages more loudly. Even if a non-believer hears three one-hour Christian sermons per week (which seldom happens), he still hears dozens of hours of other messages throughout the week. The media emphasizes moral stances in opposition to Christian teaching. Preachers of false gospels dominate the television. Political correctness reigns – and the gospel gets clouded in the process.
  6. They are enjoying their sin. There’s no other way to describe this obstacle. Sin can be fun (at least for a while), and some of the people I know are having a good time. Following Christ, they assume, would cost them too much fun. Combining this reasoning with the next reason, they see no need to turn to Christ today.
  7. They believe time is on their side. This is not always the case, of course. Some of my older family and friends are now more willing to talk about eternal matters as they see their own generation passing away. Those who are younger, though, have been more interested in waiting to consider Christianity. No urgency drives them to consider life and death matters now.
  8. They still fail to see their lostness. Their reasoning is neither new nor unique. “I treat people well, and I try to help my neighbors.” “Let me tell you some of the good things I’ve been doing.” “I just don’t believe a good God will send good people to hell.” “I don’t do anything that’s just evil.” Folks who see no need for forgiveness seldom seek it.
  9. They cannot understand the preaching. Obviously, this reason assumes non-believers who have attended church (as does the next one). A family member told me, “I like hearing _______ preach, but I don’t really understand him.” Granted, the Spirit of God helps us to understand the Word, but this message is nevertheless clear: we who preach the Word are not there to impress; we are there to communicate the life-giving message of the gospel. Clarity is a must.
  10. They are overwhelmed by Christian follow up. Frankly, this response has surprised me. Occasionally, a church fully committed to outreach and follow up has been so faithful to the task that they have frightened off a non-believer. I am grateful for churches this passionate, but it’s worth remembering that non-believers may not be prepared for our zeal. Sensitivity matters.

I suppose there are few new findings here, but I needed this reminder. Obstacles to the gospel have not changed much, at least in my experience.

What other obstacles have you found?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ten Reasons Why I’m Not Giving Up on Local Churches: A Plea for Revitalization

By Thom S. Rainer

The naysayers are at full throttle. “Local churches are dying!” “Churches are no longer relevant.” “The church is full of hypocrites.” “I don't need the institutional church.”

The naysayer nabobs of negativity are in full force. It’s easy to give up. It sadly can be easy to believe God has given up on our churches. But He has not. I am convinced He has not.

My son, Sam Rainer, posted here his reasons why we should not give up on established churches. Indeed, he wrote an entire book on the topic. Allow me to add my own postscript with ten more reasons.
  1. The local church has been God’s chosen instrument since the ascension of Christ. Christ left us with the church to carry out His plan. He even refers to churches as “the body of Christ.” Local churches have been messy since the onset (Take a quick read of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians as examples). He did not give up on the first-century churches. He will not give up on the 21st century churches.
  2. Believers can do more together than individually. We are called “church members” because we are members of the body of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 12). One member is not nearly as effective by himself or herself. We were not designed for Lone Ranger Christianity.
  3. The local church is where the Word is proclaimed and taught every week. Indeed, that is one of the key reasons for churches to exist.
  4. The local church is the place to gather to worship. Sure, we are to worship God individually. But we are also told to come together to worship with fellow believers. Such is one of the primary purposes of the church.
  5. The local church engenders accountability. The very essence of gathered believers is natural accountability. We are to submit to one another in willing and cheerful accountability. And that is intended to take place in the local church.
  6. We experience grace in the local church. I agree. The church is full of hypocrites and I am chief among them. The gathered church reminds us that we are a bunch of sinners who have been forgiven. As we continue to experience the grace of God through Christ, we should naturally desire to show that same grace to one another.
  7. The gathered church can have a great impact on its community. Most of us have seen the incredible difference a church can make on its community when that becomes its focus. I recently heard of a church where several local public schools were begging the church to come to their schools as a ministry. Those school leaders knew what a positive impact that church was making.
  8. The local church can provide an incredible organized ministry of small groups. Once believers get in small groups, they are apt to do more ministry, to read the Bible more frequently, and to give more abundantly.
  9. Believers can practice biblical stewardship best in local churches. As you read the New Testament pattern of stewardship, you see that most of the abundant giving came through local churches. Such is and should be the pattern today.
  10. The local church is the home base for evangelism. We gather for corporate worship and Bible study. But the best local churches then intentionally scatter to share the gospel with others.
I believe in the local church. I am not giving up on the local church. Too much is at stake. And God is not done with us.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ten Ways Millennials Are Shaping Local Congregations Today

By Thom Rainer

They are the largest generation in history. In the United States alone, they number more than 78 million, even larger than the seemingly ubiquitous Boomers. They are the Millennials. They are changing our nation, our world, and our churches.

For the purpose of today’s post, I want to focus on changes they are already bringing to our local churches. I have the benefit of a large research project on the Millennials, plus the ongoing conversations I have with members of this generation. And I have spoken with countless leaders in churches about their experiences with Millennials.

Keep in mind that the birth years of the Millennials: 1980 to 2000. So the oldest member of this generation is 34, while the youngest is only 14. But their impact is already noticeable, and it will be for years to come. Here are ten ways they are shaping local congregations today:

  • More of them are attracted to smaller venues. They are thus one of the reasons for the incredible growth in the multi-venue model of churches and the growth of new churches. Leaders of smaller churches should be encouraged by this trend as well.
  • They see culture as something to influence, rather than an enemy to denounce. Many Millennials truly have a missionary mindset. They are turned off by those who constantly rail against people.
  • They like to cooperate with others. They do not view other churches and Christian organizations as competitors. They are attracted to congregations that are working with other congregations.
  • They abhor worship wars. I have a previous post on this topic called “What Worship Style Attracts the Millennials?”
  • They love churches that love their communities. One of the first questions a Millennial will ask a church leader is, “What is the church doing to influence, impact, and minister to the community?”
  • They are attracted to churches that emphasize groups. The Millennials want to be a part of a congregation that has healthy small groups, Sunday school classes, home groups, or other groups.
  • They want to be trained on their schedule. The Millennials truly desire training. But they are accustomed to having that training available when they are able to hear it or view it. Such is the reason that many churches are going to video training while have “live” worship services and small groups.
  • They will question almost everything. This generation will want to know why a church does what it does. The most unacceptable answer is, “We have always done it this way.”
  • They are slow to join, and slow to leave. Church leaders are often frustrated that a Millennial takes so long to commit to a local congregation. But they are intentional and thorough. Once they commit to a church, they are less likely to leave, especially over petty issues.
  • They want to be involved. If a church does not have an intentional plan to get Millennials involved in ministry quickly, they will not reach Millennials.
  • I love this generation. I love their enthusiasm, their commitment, and even their questions. They are one of the reasons I remain an obnoxious optimist about the revitalization of local congregations.

I would love to hear from some of you Millennials. And I would love to hear from some of the older folks like me who are interacting with this generation. Your comments are always more valuable than my posts.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seven Positive Ways Christians Can Use Social Media

by Thom S. Rainer

In a previous post, I shared seven warnings to Christian leaders about their use of social media. The post, by its very topic, was not positive. I do strongly believe, however, that social media can be used for good and for God’s glory.

In this post I show the other side of social media. And I do so with great encouragement that many believers are already approaching social media as a platform to share the gospel and show the love of Christ. Here are seven suggestions I would humbly add to this discussion.

  1. Pray before you post. If I have learned anything about social media, I have learned that I’m not the smartest guy around. I need God’s wisdom to communicate in such a way that brings honor and glory to Him. That is why I must begin with prayer.
  2. Encourage others in social media. Some of the greatest encouragements I receive come from people on social media. I am so thankful for the many Christians who use this platform in obedience to the Word of God: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  3. Respond with a gentle spirit. Let our desire be to win hearts rather than to win arguments.
  4. Remember who is watching you in social media. The words we Christians say to one another and to others are on display for the world to see. This platform is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in action, which brings us to my next suggestion.
  5. Use social media as an opportunity to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. God is doing great works through those in social media who strive to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit every time they post: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control” (Galatians 5:22).
  6. Create a prayer ministry through social media. Make it a point to pray for many of those you read or watch on social media. Let them know you are praying for them. At this blog, I ask Christians across the world to pray for a specific church every Sunday (use this form to submit a church).
  7. Seek to create unity in the body of Christ through social media. For sure, there are many who are divisive. But even more of us can be a mighty force for God to bring unity to Christians across the world. Paul said it well: “Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14).

I am incredibly grateful for so many of you who are positive witnesses for Christ on social media. It can be tempting to go negative since negativity draws attention and creates greater traffic. I would love to hear how you are using social media to share the gospel, encourage others, demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, and to show Christ’s love in a multitude of ways.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

5th Sunday Sing

Emmanuel Baptist Church tonight we are hosting South Central Baptist Association’s 5th Sunday Sing. The 5th Sunday Sing will take place at 6:30PM. After our time of song celebration, we will enjoy snack time social. For the social, if are able to bring a light snack, chips, or drinks, this would be appreciated.

See you at 6:30 for the 5th Sunday Sing.


Pastor Garret

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Challenge to Tell Your Story

A Challenge to Tell Your Story

By Chuck Lawless

What’s your story?

Here’s mine:
I was not raised in a Christian home. I grew up in the Midwest, but I never owned a Bible until I was thirteen years old. I first heard about Christ when God planted in my seventh-grade classroom what I call “a crazy, fanatical twelve-year-old Pentecostal preacher” who made it his goal to win me to the Lord. His approach was simple: he met me at the classroom door each morning and told me, “Chuck, it’s a good thing you lived through the night….” He would then continue, “if you hadn’t, you’d be in hell right now.  But . . . you can receive Jesus into your heart right now.” His technique was not the best, but somewhere in the midst of that message God drove truth into my heart—and several months later I trusted Christ and turned from my sin. Now almost forty years later, my life has never been the same. I’m learning daily that grace really is amazing.

I ask you again, “What’s your story?”
See, that question is not an insignificant one. The Bible is filled with people who reached out to others simply by telling their story. Andrew told Peter he had met the Messiah (John 1:40-42), and Philip echoed a similar story to Nathaniel (John 1:43-45). The man born blind told all he could tell after meeting Jesus: “Once I was blind, but now I see” (John 9:24-25). The apostle Paul told his story more than once (Acts 22:1-21, 26:1-23).

Why It’s Important

Why is our story so important? First, everybody has one. Every follower of Christ has a story to tell that includes sinfulness, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Second, nobody needs special training to tell his or her story. Training can be helpful—for example, we can learn how to tell our story clearly and concisely in different circumstances – but we can tell our stories simply because they are ours. Third, our stories are evidences of grace. Some may seem more dramatic, but all are stories of grace-saturated life transformation.  

Even the very ordinances Christ gave the church are designed to tell the story. Through believer’s baptism, we illustrate our trust in Christ’s death, our personal death to self, and our belief in resurrection and eternal life. When we observe the Lord’s Supper, we remember what Christ did for us, reflect on and renew our commitment to Him, and look forward to the day when He will come again. Our sharing in these events shows that the story has now become “our” story; the gospel has become intensely personal and real.

Why We Don’t Share Our Stories

Yet, most of us don’t tell our story much, even to other believers. My evidence is purely anecdotal, but here’s my experience from studying hundreds of churches over the last fifteen years:
  • Pastors tell their story in the call/hiring process, but many newer members have never heard that story. The longer a pastor leads the church, the more likely it is some of his flock won’t know his story.
  • Some unbelieving spouses have never heard their own spouse’s conversion story.
  • Children and teens often know nothing of the events surrounding their parents’ or grandparents’ turning to Christ.
  • Some adult children don’t learn the details of their elderly parents’ conversion until late in life – sometimes not until making funeral preparations.
  • Small group members have sometimes never heard the story of the leader who facilitates their group each week.
  • Church-going couples sometimes get engaged without knowing each other’s conversion story.
  • Many faithful church members have never been privileged to learn God’s grace story in the lives of their congregation’s staff, elders, and deacons.
  • Most church members know the stories of only a few—if any—other members.
Here’s my question: if we take seriously the Great Commission to reach our neighbors and the nations (Matt. 28:18-20), how will we tell non-believers our story if we don’t even tell it to brothers and sisters in Christ?

In fact, this issue is not an either/or issue. By telling our stories within the Body, we glorify God and encourage others. We also learn to tell our story in a “safe” place. By telling our story to a lost world, non-believers come to know the Redeemer. It’s really that simple.

So, what’s your story? Take a few minutes here to tell us your story. Find a way to tell it to other believers. Church leaders, “plan” times for members to tell their stories. Teach them to tell them often – to believers and non-believers alike.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Obituary of Beloved Member, Brenda Shifflett

Brenda (Cutler) Shifflett 53, of Elizabethtown, went home to be with her Lord May 7th after a battle with cancer.

She was born in Reading, Pennsylvania to Barbara J. Warren and Ronald W. Cutler.  Brenda graduated from Reading High School.  She married Doug Shifflett on October 14, 1995.

Until suffering a health disability, Brenda worked for Dana Tractor Trailer Corporation as a Warranty Specialist Supervisor. While employed with Dana Corporation, Brenda earned several certificates of achievements.  She loved her Jack Russell Terrier and recently rescued a needy cat.  All who knew Brenda will miss her humor, intelligence, strength, generosity, and happy friendly spirit.

Brenda was a devoted mother to her son, Sean, 17; and stepdaughter, Alisha Shifflett, 23.  She is also survived by her parents; brother, Randy Cutler; niece, Jenny Shifflett; and step-mother, Kathryn Weaber.

A commemorative celebration of Brenda's life and faith will be held at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 25 Beechwood Lane, Elizabethtown PA 17022; Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 3 PM.  A fellowship meal will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Emmanuel Baptist Church where Brenda was an active and devoted member.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ten Tips to a Testimony


Everyone has a story. And everyone who has trusted in Christ has the best story, one that’s worth telling.

Many believers, however, are a bit timid when it comes to sharing their stories. You might be one of these timid believers. This is, perhaps, because your story’s details are somewhat of a discombobulated collection of experiences floating, like an astronaut in space, around your mind. It’s all there, but you just can’t seem to get it in order.

Thankfully we have beautiful examples of a testimony’s composition in Scripture. Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa, for one, serves as a noteworthy tool to teach us how we can share our stories with the lost.

The following includes ten tips to formatting your story, based on Paul’s experience in the latter chapters of Acts. I encourage you to read the corresponding passages to obtain the full intention of these tips:

1. Be Confident (25:23-27): The world treats Christians like second-class citizens. Anyone who believes in God is unscientific and archaic in his beliefs. However, Acts 25:23-27 reveals that faith in Jesus is a justified belief. The Roman government, although in disagreement, counted Paul’s beliefs as warranted. Paul was confident in what he believed, and we should be too. He was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom 1:16).

2. Be Respectful (26:1-3): Christians unfortunately have a reputation of being disrespectful to those that disagree with us, especially when the disagreement is over one of our pet peeve sins (homosexuality, for example). However, Paul shows us in Acts 26:1-3 that we ought to be respectful to our audience.

3. Be Transparent (26:4-5, 9-11): Paul didn’t hold back any details of his past. He was open and honest about his sin and how it separated him from God. He was, quite plainly, an enemy of God, as we all were before salvation. This is an important portion of your story. People need to grasp the full notion of sin, and the best way to do that is to explain how you too needed God’s saving grace.

4. Be Honest About Your Intentions (26:6-8): Sometimes Christians are guilty of building pseudo-relationships. That is, we don’t really care about getting to know someone, only making them our project. This is unbiblical. Paul was open and honest about why he wanted to talk to the Roman officials.

5. Talk About Meeting Jesus (26:9-18): This tip isn’t to be confused with #7, which is an explicit explanation of the gospel. It’s the opportunity to talk about how you met Jesus. It’s an opportunity to show the person that Jesus isn’t some mythical, fictional character, but our living Savior.

6. Talk About Experiencing Persecution (26:19-21): In sharing your story, it’s important to share the full story, which includes the reality of persecution. Christianity isn’t a life free from problems. Paul was clear in explaining this and we should be too.

7. Explain the Gospel (26:20b, 22-23): The explicit and clear announcement of the gospel ought to be part of your testimony. No one should be able to walk away after hearing your story without knowing that Jesus is the only answer to sin. This includes his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, as Paul so eloquently illustrates in his testimony before Agrippa.

8. Invite to Believe (26:24-28): I can’t express how important an invitation is to me personally.  It was the invitation that provided an opportunity for me to respond to God’s calling. An invitation is an extremely important part of telling your story. Paul illustrates this for us in passionately pleading to Agrippa to believe in Jesus. And we read that Agrippa was just about persuaded by the end of the experience!

9. Accept Their Response (26:29): It’s important to know that you can’t save someone. Only God can do that. Your job isn’t to save people; it’s to be faithful. Paul didn’t argue with Agrippa for not immediately accepting Christ. He left it up to God.

10. Accept the Consequences (26:30-32): Sometimes there are consequences for sharing your faith. For Paul it was imprisonment. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that. Yet. But there might be other consequences for sharing your faith, such as the loss of friendships or even the loss of relationships with family. It might even go further, such as discipline at your job or at your school. Paul was willing to die in order that the highest officials in the Roman government would hear.

These are but ten tips we can learn from Paul’s testimony to Agrippa. What other tips do you find in Scripture? What have you found to be effective when sharing your personal story?

- See more at:

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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