August 2019 Witness

As I recently preached on Hannah, the wife who prayed for a son and miraculously gave birth to a boy who would become the great Old Testament Prophet Samuel, I ran across an illustration I had never heard before.  E.V. (Ed) Hill, who pastored Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for 42 years, tells the story of how the love and prayers of his adopted “Mama” changed his life. Mama believed in two things: Prayer and Ed.  She saw to it that he graduated from high school and even insisted that he go to college.  As he boarded the bus to leave for college, Mama said to him, “Remember, Mama is praying for you.” When he arrived at Prairie View College in his native Texas, he stood in the registration line and soon learned that the $1.90 he had left from his bus trip would not pay for his tuition, room and board. He started to get out of line, but then remembered his Mama’s words. She was praying for him. As it came his turn to register, Dr. J.M. Drew approached him and asked if he was Ed Hill from Sweet Home, Texas. Ed told him he was, then Dr. Drew said, “We have a four-year scholarship that will pay your room and board, your tuition, and give you thirty dollars a month to spend.” And Ed says he heard his Mama say, “I will be praying for you!” Indeed, there is great power in a mama’s prayers! July has been a good month with 314 in Bible Study.  I am so proud of you for meeting and exceeding our Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering goal of $15,000 with a total of $15,4412.26. We also did well in the month of June and had, at month’s end, a total of $653,175.62 toward our new Student/Young Adult Building! As I write this, Vacation Bible School is taking place. Thanks to our Director, Rene Hubbard, and all who worked with her and Maria Brannen to make this one of the best V.B.S.’s we have ever had! We also look forward to our Youth Choir Dinner Theater on the evenings of July 27th and 28th.   August has some very special emphases:

  • BACK TO SCHOOL BASH for Pre-K through fifth grade is Sunday, August 4th, from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. in and around our Christian Family Life Center.
  • LAMAR COUNTY SCHOOLS PRAYER WALK will be August 4th from 6:30 to 7:30 P.M. We’ll begin with some refreshments and instructions at the Lamar County Schools Fine Arts Center.
  • MISSIONS FEST will be Sunday evening, August 11th, at 6:30 in our gym. We’ll have a great meal with a “Boston Food Theme,” and then have the opportunity to hear from all who served on mission trips this summer, including our Youth Choir that served in Boston (that’s in Massachusetts)!
  • August is also the month that we do DEACON ELECTION here at First Baptist. We will pass out the ballots on August 4th and you may return marked ballot up until Wednesday, August 14th. Deacon Election will be in all three Sunday morning services on August 25th.

August is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY!

I Love You, Garth


July 2019 Witness

For Father’s Day this summer, I shared a message called “Proverbs for Fathers.” The Old Testament Book of Proverbs offers short, pithy statements of practical, godly wisdom. There is good, biblical advice on marriage, parenting, discipline, money management and a host of other areas of life. An alcoholic husband went to the doctor and was told that he had a serious drinking problem. He didn’t want to admit that to his wife so he told her the doctor had said he had “syncopation,” a word he thought he made up figuring his wife would just think it was a big medical word and not investigate it. But he was wrong. His wife looked up the word in a dictionary and it’s a word from the world of music that means “erratic wandering from bar to bar.” Yep, he had syncopation! Now, there is nothing that is more difficult for a child than to live in a community where one of his parents, especially his father, is held in disrespect because of some illegal or immoral act he has committed. The disrespect that the father has brought upon himself spills over into how other children treat his child.          But, thankfully, it also works the other way around. Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.”  Don’t be put off by the word “blameless” in that verse. It doesn’t mean perfect. Rather, it refers to  a life lived with integrity, honesty and goodness.  When a father lives such a life, the whole community treats him and his family with respect. In other words, his family is blessed by his behavior! June has been a good month with 320 in Bible Study. We enjoyed Father’s Day on the 16th with a couple of Baby Celebrations. We kicked off our Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering on June 23rd with an attractive envelope board created by Joe and Judy Andrews, along with an excellent video that explained its use by Cara Grobbelaar and Carrianna Simmons, all to help us reach our $15,000 goal.  We had a couple of Work Days at Hope Tree Food Bank on the 21st and 22nd.  We had a Family Movie Night on the 28th and we’ll celebrate God & Country Day on the final Sunday, June 30th. July has some very special emphases:

  • VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL is scheduled for July 21st – 25th, Sunday through Thursday, from 5:30 to 8:30 P.M.
  • YOUTH CHOIR DINNER THEATER will be July 27th through 28th. Tickets will go on sale on July 7th.
July is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY!   I Love You, Garth


June 2019 Witness

On Mother’s Day Sunday, I kicked off our FAMILY EMPHASIS 2019 with a message on marriage called “Till Death Do Us Part.” It is no accident that the Bible envisions the relationship between Christ and His Church as a marriage. Why? Because marriage is the most meaningful, the most intimate and the most beautiful relationship of life. Recently, I was listening to a civil wedding ceremony from another state where, when the officient performing the ceremony got to those last words of the traditional wedding vow, she made them very untraditional. Instead of saying the words “…as long as you both shall LIVE,” she said, “…as long as you both shall LOVE.” Well, that sounded cutsy and creative, but it betrayed a deadly flaw in modern marriage.   It is the idea that you only need to stay married to someone as long as you FEEL LIKE YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH THEM! Love is not a feeling, it is a commitment!  John Drakeford, my professor of counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, shared a principle that that can help every marriage: “It is much easier to act your way into a new way of feeling than it is to feel your way into a new way of acting.” If you wait until you feel like you love your spouse to treat them like you love them, then you won’t have a very good marriage. On the other hand, if you will go ahead and treat your spouse like you love them, regardless of the way that you feel, then once again that “loving feeling” will eventually come back! May has been a very busy month with 353 in Bible Study.   We had a nice community crowd for the National Day of Prayer on May 2nd.  Mother’s Day with its Baby Celebration on Sunday, May 12th was a special day for us all. Thanks to all of our Mission Friends, R.A. and G.A. workers who made our Missions Recognition Program on May 15th a success.  Graduate Recognition and the luncheon provided a record number of graduates and their families a great time of celebration.  Our Children’s Music Recognition Program on May 19th celebrated our preschool and children’s choirs and their workers.  Last night, I greatly enjoyed our Faith Friends Academy Commencement program.  And, as I write this on May 22nd, tonight is Baccalaureate at the Lamar County Fine Arts Center. June has some special emphases:

  • FATHER’S DAY on June 16th complete with Baby Celebration. Please contact the church office if you would like to participate.
  • WORK DAY AT HOPE TREE FOOD BANK on Friday and Saturday, June 21st through 22nd.
  • ANNIE ARMSTRONG NORTH AMERICAN MISSION OFFERING runs from June 23rd to July 14th. Due to our Generations Following fund-raising campaign, we postponed this annual offering. Our goal is $15,000.
  • GOD & COUNTRY DAY on Sunday, June 30th, will be celebrated along with the Lord’s Supper.

June is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY! I Love You, Garth