Christ Church Cairo

Christ Church in Cairo, Georgia is a new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship congregation.

Dawnings

A team of four from our church attended a "Dawnings" retreat at Second Avenue Baptist Church in Rome, GA. This retreat took us back to the reason the church exists. Insightful reflecting was offered as "organic visioning". That is, why did Jesus begin the church and to what level do we identify and live out that purpose? Is our focus, as a church, the same as His?  "Dawnings" is about creating a space for God to work. It is about moving beyond head knowledge of God to living like Christ.

This retreat has challenged me to move beyond making my plans and asking God to bless them.  Instead I look to God in prayer, connect with Him, and listen to what He has to say. "Dawnings" taught us that we already have the answers that we need.  We just need to look at our situation in a different way to see them.

I have been reminded again of the power of thought directed by prayer. Being still and listening to God is a discipline that is amazingly important. If I invite God in, then He will show up.

"Dawnings" has taught me to start my prayers by listening rather than by speaking. "Dawnings" has lovingly challenged me to live out my passion in serving Christ. Practically speaking "Dawnings" is encouraging me to guide our church to re-enter the community in a fresh way. Some new ministry ideas have been offered which I am excited about sharing with our fellowship.

 "Build something new, because something new is needed." -Harry Rowland. 

"Spiritual vision is discovered before God-not invented by us."Dawnings literature

Looking unto the dawn,

Ron

A Word from the Pastor

I was sitting in the office of the Executive Director of Hospice this week, and the topic of good intentions came up. It was a stimulating discussion! His point being that good intentions do not equal commitment to the task. Only a total commitment will yield the desired results. Because the Executive Director is a preacher's kid, we could use biblical comparisons and understand immediately what the other was talking about. For example, what would have happened to the first century church if the disciples had not been committed to the task to the level of giving their lives? Yes, they had a purpose (a mission statement in today's language); and they had a plan (a vision statement in today's church language). But how far would that purpose and plan go if total commitment had not been a part of the mix? My Executive Director quoted his Methodist pastor-daddy, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions! If Daddy has said that once, he has said it a thousand times." Plans can change, but the purpose must remain clear and commitment must remain strong in order to bring into reality the desired results.

 

The first century Christians did not have "how-to" books or seminars to attend, but they got the job done because of total commitment. I am still amazed, that a short 270 years after Jesus ascended; these disciples and the disciples who followed them had won half of the known world to Christ. I am even more amazed that the fact they gave their lives to accomplish this seemed a small price to pay.  As we witness Christianity shrinking and churches closing in America, I wonder about our level of commitment. Never had we had so many "how-to" books, and yet, never has the Church been so anemic in sharing the Gospel. To stem the tide, denominations have trained consultants to work with churches to clarify their purpose and come up with a plan that everyone can agree upon. And yet, all this effort and energy does not translate into increased baptisms and growing disciples. The reason? The key to success is commitment.

 

While I pastored in New Orleans, the pastor's secretary came to the church office laughing one Monday morning after visiting her home church in Mississippi over the weekend. She said, "You will not believe the level of disorganization that I witnessed in my home church this weekend." She said, "The pastor announced at the conclusion of worship.’the tithe envelopes are in and they are in the vestibule. Just pick up a pack and when you tithe next Sunday, we'll see what number is on the envelope and assign that number to your records.' “She said, "I like to have fallen out! How disorganized!" Then she said, "What amazed me even more is that people stood in line for fifteen minutes to get their tithe envelopes!" And then she paused for a moment and then commented, "That church is in revival, and I have never seen such commitment."

 

Our church is in the midst of revisiting our purpose and our plans. We are setting up a time to visit with the renowned church consultant, Dr. David Odom. The church consultant for the Cooperate Baptist Fellowship, Andy Hale, a highly talented man, is working with us. Every thing is in place for success. Now, only one ingredient left: commitment.

 

Celebrating Certain Victory!

Ron

A Word from Ron

A lot of positive things have been happening over the summer. First, we have secured Dr. David Odom from Duke Divinity School to give us feedback on how to become more effective in reaching others for Christ. We are presently collecting questions to email him as he prepares to meet with us via Skype. Moreover, I have been in conversation with Andy Hale who is the new church plant consultant for the Cooperate Baptist Fellowship. As a courtesy, I would like to copy him the questions that we will send Dr. Odom so he can get a good feel for where we are. He has shared initially with me some ideas on training that I think will be attractive to us. Andy is a high-energy guy with whom I feel our people will enjoy working. Currently, our leadership team is meeting periodically on Sunday nights to collect and organize our thoughts. We welcome your input.

Further, our Grady County Ministerial Alliance hosted a prayer breakfast for the leadership of our public school system this past Friday morning. The superintendent and several principals attended. When asked, "How can the churches help you?" The overwhelming response was, "Families. We need help with families. Families are falling apart, and it is affecting the learning ability of the children." In general, the Church is expected to guide the family unit to spiritual health and wholeness. Never before has there been a greater need for the Church to "step up" to give clear direction to our families. So, we have a lot on our plate as a Church, individually and collectively. These are challenging and exciting days. May the Lord find us faithful (Luke 18:8).

In Prayer,
Ron

What Is Summertime For?

When we think of summer, we automatically think of a well-deserved vacation. We plan carefully where we are going and what we are going to do. When vacation time finally arrives, we go joyfully on our way driving “out of Dodge” as we say. But if you are like me, my thinking is not put on “hold.” As I rest, cherishing each vacation day, I am drawn to thinking about the future. As I think about the year ahead and what I want to accomplish, my mind asks the “how” questions. I find myself with notebook in hand making notes about goals and how to bring them into reality. This year was no exception. I found myself thinking and praying about the future of our church and ways to draw non-churched people our way. Hence, I have been in contact with The Center for Congregational Health. They have stimulated my thinking into having a series of meetings with our leadership team to re-evaluate our present goals and to strategize for the future. We have enjoyed several meetings of this nature in the past. Now, with a little tweaking, we will enjoy another series of meetings to refocus and to re-energize the direction of our church. I ask you to pray for us, while we re-examine ways to minister more effectively in His Name.

Thinking and Praying,

Ron

 

Re-dreaming Our Dreams

Our leadership team has been meeting in order to evaluate where we are in our process. We have looked at three main goals that we established when we began our mission. First, reclaim the disenfranchised Baptists and give them a place to call home. Second, create an income stream for moderate Baptist missions and ministries. And third, reach the younger people of whom only about ten percent are active in churches. There is a strong opinion that we need to revisit our first goal of reclaiming disenfranchised Baptists.  Our goal is to clarify our identity, stir the hearts of true Baptists to join us and draw to us those who hunger to study the teachings of Jesus. Some research is finding that the younger people are saying "No" to the established Church and yet are keenly interested in Jesus. With our emphasis on studying the teachings of Jesus, this will hopefully draw some young people who really do want to discover for themselves what Jesus taught.

I have started reading Let's Start With Jesus by Dennis Kinlaw, Ph.D. I got to know Dr. Kinlaw at a conference several years ago. I knew about him. I knew that he had been president of Asbury College in 1968 when it experienced an 85 hour visitation of the Holy Spirit during one of their worship events in chapel. This experience, in essence, kicked off "The Jesus Movement." I was intrigued by his scholarship, because he studied under Dr. Bruce Metzger at Princeton. Moreover, Dr. Kinlaw was a deeply spiritual man. He was the ideal blend of scholarship and spirituality. We were prayer partners for a brief period before his health caused him to drastically reduce his schedule. His prayers moved me deeply. I learned from him that church work is singular. That is, it is all about drawing people to the feet of Jesus. The churches that draw others to Jesus are the churches who are growing disciples; and disciples feel compelled to tell others the beautiful story of Jesus Christ. And, others listen to them, because they see the change in them. In this way, the salvation story is spread effectively. In his book, Let's Start With Jesus, Dr. Kinlaw encourages the reader to study the mystery of the Gospel afresh with the understanding that God wants an intimate relationship with us to the same degree that there is communion between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Dr. Kinlaw puts it this way:

"My problem was not to seek something beyond the biblical text. It was to open    myself as full as possible to all that is buried within it. Slowly I began to realize how partially I understood the mystery of the gospel that has been given to us in Scripture and in Christ.” (p. 12)

 So, it will be with this objective that we will refocus on our first goal: to draw others afresh to the feet of Jesus. My prayer is that people's hearts with be rekindled with a fresh love for Christ and renew their commitment to follow Him.

In Prayer,

Ron

Pursuing Our Vision

After celebrating a wonderful missions offering that we gave to support our state missions, we celebrated, at Easter, that the tomb is empty and our hearts are filled with hope as we face the future. As we face our future, allow me to remind you of our founding focus as a mission church. Our three-fold reason for beginning our work was: 1) to reclaim disenfranchised Baptist believers who felt that they had no where to call home in our area; 2) to create an income stream for moderate Baptist causes, from southwest Georgia, for missions efforts throughout the world; 3) to "make disciples" of the next generation. Just as an auto factory makes cars and a tooth pick factory makes tooth picks, a church makes disciples. According to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 28:18-20, His Church's first priority is to "make disciples."  We have focused well and worked hard on priorities one and two. Now, as we look to the future, our next challenge is to focus on priority three: making disciples of the next generation. Looking at the big picture, churches are dying, across America, at an increasing rate. Religious researches say the reason for membership loss is that most churches have lost sight of the first priority of the Church: make disciples. In the 'Show-Time' environment of our religious culture, getting young people's attention and inviting them to study and to live by the teachings of Jesus is challenging. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus is commanding us to do. Is it easy? No. Is it frustrating? At times, Yes. It is rewarding? Absolutely!  We have been rewarded a grant to help us reach the next generation. Let's find a fruitful way to use the funds to draw others to the feet of Jesus. If you have some ideas, then please share them with our leadership team. Together, let's find immeasurable meaning in pursuing Jesus' number one priority for His Church.

Planting Seeds,
Ron

 

Cussing Under My Breath

photo 1.JPG

As we approached Lent, a minister asked me, "What are you giving up for Lent?" I responded, with tongue in cheek, "Cussing under my breath." He enjoyed a good belly laugh, and then he became silent searching my face for any hint of sincerity about what I had just said. It sparked an introspective conversation. Referring to Mark 8:27-33, I shared with my minister buddy that I felt Lent was not just a time of giving up something as it was gaining something; and that "something" was spiritual growth.

From the time that Jesus shared His true identity, as well as His true intentions at Caesarea Philippi; the disciples entered a season of gigantic struggles within themselves. So much so, that Peter felt compelled to confront Jesus about His prophecy of rejection and death awaiting Him in Jerusalem. As I read this passage again, I can still feel the blistering heat in this exchange. How this reminds me of the reason for Lent: a time to re-examine ourselves spiritually. Indeed, it is a time or us to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us afresh about how we have allowed our thinking, our self-talk to get off course. Like the disciples' experience, redirecting our inner world is a major undertaking. As Ephesians 4:15 exhorts us to "become more and more in every way like Christ" (NLT), we must face a season of self examination. So, the Lenten question of, "What are you giving up for Lent?" is appropriate here. I must first give up self-centered thought processes in order to replace them with Christ-centered thoughts.

I am still amazed at the findings of an article that I read in a neurological journal about a group of nuns. The question asked was, "Will meditation have any affect on one's brain wave patterns?" The nuns, who meditated daily, had a different brain wave pattern! Only neurologists comprehend the magnitude of this finding. The point here is when we continuously seek Him, this spiritual exercise not only changes one's brain wave pattern; it also changes one's life pattern. In short, the objective of Lent is to change our life-pattern, more and more, into the likeness of Christ.  

How would your life change if you decided to exchange cussing under your breath to praising God under your breath? I dare say that it would alter your brain wave pattern!

Enjoy a most blessed Easter!

Ron

Certain Victory

What a stimulating experience Dr. Slater gave us as he guided us through the book of Revelation!

Someone asked me, "What do you think is the message of Revelation for today's Christian?" This reminds me of a story a pastor told about his church's janitor. The janitor sat on the floor of the hallway as a biblical scholar walked past. The scholar noticed that the janitor was reading the book of Revelation and said to him, "If you would like to know what Revelation says, then please join us in our seminar." The custodian replied, "I already know what it says." The surprised scholar said, "You do? Then what is the message of Revelation?" The janitor replied, "The message of Revelation is, 'We win!'"

The Lord knows that each human being has a dominant emotion by which one lives. Regardless of circumstances, joy, hope, melancholy, or despair sits on the throne of a person's heart and establishes the atmosphere in which that person lives. Being persecuted for his faith,  John was thrown into a pot of boiling oil! He escaped, but was recaptured. The king decided to exile John on a desolate island where he would die slowly, isolated from society. If this were to happen to us, how would we feel? Not doubt, we would be feeling sorry for ourselves and "down in the dumps." But John was living in joy! Why? Because he had seen a vision that filled his heart with hope!  And that is, in essence, the message of Revelation—hope! God wants us to look to the future with hope! No matter your present circumstances, let hope sit on the throne of your heart.

So spread the word to a hurting world! We Christians win in the end.

And the way to get folks attention is to live in hope and joy!

With you in this certain victory,
Ron

Looking for the Extraordinary

Looking for the Extraordinary

I sense something about this young generation. While families have become fragile, integrity has declined and people are becoming more self-centered, this young generation is looking for the extraordinary. The first place they look is in the church. And having not found it, they are becoming discouraged; but they have not given up! A few churches are providing the extraordinary... an encounter with God... and those are the churches that are filling up with young people.  I spoke with a young husband recently, who was struggling to get his wife to attend church with him. Excitedly, he shared with me that his wife was attending church with him now, because, "She found what she was looking for!" he shared. He said further, "She feels connected with God there." And connecting with God is truly an extraordinary experience!
  The truth of the matter is, no matter what our age, we all are longing for that extraordinary experience of a holy connection with God. I think the difference in the generations is that people my age just give up and drop out. I feel this is the reason that we have more psychotropic drugs sold today, in America, than ever before. But wouldn't it be wonderful if we rediscovered the extraordinary in Jesus Christ!


Seminar Study of Revelation on February 22

 This is part of the reason why I have invited Dr. Tom Slater, Professor of Biblical Literature at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University to lead a seminar on the study of Revelation. Dr. Slater is a foremost authority on Revelation,and has some extraordinary insights. Regardless of age, we are all searching for the extraordinary. If you, or others in your friendship circle, are hungering for an encounter with God, then plan to be with us on 22 February. We will meet at The First Assembly of God building located at the corner of highway 188 and 12th Avenue NE. The exact physical address is 495 12th Avenue N.E. If you attend, then I feel that you will say what my young friend said about his wife, "She found what she was looking for!"

In His Service and Yours,

Ron

Reflections and Looking Ahead

Christmas Reflections

As I reflect on Christmas, I am amazed at how God found willing people to join Him in this almost unbelievable journey. I say "almost," because if I had not experienced the life-changing gift of salvation offered through the story, I would find it too incredible to believe. God became a baby born to poor parents. And as this baby becomes a man, He dies for us offering Him as the sacrifice for our sin. Incredible! And as we receive this gift, a miraculous transformation takes place in our hearts. We become new creatures!


Like I said, if it had not happened to me, I would not have believed it! A new life guided by the Holy Spirit of the Creator of this universe! Amazing! But what does God want us to do with this new life? That is what new beginnings involving this New Year is all about. We have been given another year to live. 2014 is now upon us. But what does God want us to do with this additional time on earth? I read where someone said, "While alive, live!" Some people keep wishing to be in another situation or another place in order for them to reach their fullest potential.

Realizing that God has you where you are for a purpose, I invite you to be quiet before the Lord and listen for His "still small voice" to give you clarity for why He has you where you are. And, with that clarity, will come the joy of realizing a new, fresh beginning in Him and a renewed energy to live 2014 with gusto! May the way we live 2014 generate a thunderous applause of Heaven.

Global Missions

In my heart, I hear the prayers of our missionaries asking God to make a way where there seems to be no way. Ministry needs face them with no funds to bring those ministries into reality. May God use your gift as an answer to a prayer. We will extend the Global Missions Offering through January.

Revelation Seminar

Please pray for our seminar on the book of Revelation taught by Dr. Tom Slater, Professor at McAfee School of Theology. February 21-23 is the weekend for the seminar!

Spread the news and bring some friends to hear Dr. Slater!

In His Service and Yours,


Ron

 

It's Christmas Time!

I love Christmas! Love the beautiful decorations, the Christmas carols, the Yuletide hymns of the church, but most of all; I love the reason or Christmas—the birth of Jesus! When I think about it, it almost takes my breath away. God comes to earth in the form of a baby to save us from our sins. What immeasurable love and sacrifice this is. His gift does something wonderful to each of us. It causes us to want to give back. For example, when I was 13 years old, I had recently landed a job as a bag-boy at a privately owned grocery store in my hometown. I had just been paid and I had a $1.25 in my pocket!

I felt rich! I could now pay for my own lunch at school the next week. Back then lunch was $.25 per day. I had enough money to pay for the whole week! As I was walking home after work, a black woman who had done some domestic work for my mother stepped from behind a car with a desperate look on her face. She called my name through a stressed-filled voice. I stopped, sensing that something was wrong. As she approached me, she pleaded, "Please let me borrow fifty cents! I'll be glad to pay you back when I can." Her eyes were filling with tears. Her body was tense. Sensing a strong need in the life of this sweet, humble woman, I replied, "Sure." I reached into my pocket and pulled out a shiny new fifty cent piece and placed it in her outstretched hand.

She spoke profusely, "Thank you! Thank you!" and immediately walked quickly into the grocery store, I continued my walk home. Boy, did I feel good! Life was great! I had been able to help someone in need. Later in the next week, I would have a pay a price for giving my money away. But it didn't matter, because the joy that I received from the gift was far greater than the price. I feel that God feels that same way about you and me.

The joy from giving the gift of salvation is far greater than the price paid—as great as that price was.

So that brings us to thinking about the gift that we need to give to our Global missions Offering. We have foreign missionaries with strong needs, and they are praying for God to meet them. The ones whom I know are living sacrificially to share the life-saving story of Jesus. Do I want to be a part of that?

You bet I do! I want to give away what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose!

I live for the time when I will be in Heaven, and someone walks ups to me and says, "Thank you for giving unto the Lord. I am a life who was changed."

I have more than $41.25 in my pocket now, but I want my best Christmas gift to go to Jesus through my Global Missions Offering.

Giving Because Jesus Gave,

Ron

A Season of Thanksgiving

November is the season of Thanksgiving, and we, at our church, have so many reasons for our hearts to be filled with gratitude. First, we thank God for the funds that we have started receiving from Georgia Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to pay our monthly rent for our church site. Behind the money is the statement, "We believe in you, and we love you." The arms of love feel very warm and cozy, indeed!

Read More

Talk About Gaining Visibility!

Wow! In ONE week, our church was highlighted by Associated Baptist Press and the state convention! Associated Baptist Press wrote an article about us being a "Champion Church" through our missions giving. You remember, we gave a $500.00 matching gift to them. And what a uplifting article it was about us. And then, the state missions offering posters came in the mail. I opened the poster advertising our state missions offering, and what grabbed my eye? Pictures of Summit Baptist Church (now Christ Church) family were on the poster! I think that folks in the state are thinking that God is doing something wonderful among us! How affirming! I was already feeling really good about receiving a call from Georgia Cooperative Baptist Fellowship office apologizing for their oversight concerning sending us a monthly check to help us with our expenses, and they were going to catch up. So, over all, this has been a very positive couple of weeks!

Read More

Copyright 2014-2017, Christ Church, Cairo, GA  |  Site by Faithlab