I was sharing with my Sunday school class this past Sunday the similarities between the wilderness journey of the Israelites and the Christian life. Like Israel was delivered out of slavery from Egypt, we are delivered out of slavery to sin through faith in Jesus. However, Israel had to go on a journey before they reached the Promised Land. That journey was filled with blessings and great tragedy. As Christians, we must go on a journey as well before we reach the ultimate Promised Land that Jesus will usher in at His return. This journey of life between conversion and consummation is one that is filled with blessings and tragedy.
We’re only a month into 2020 and we’ve seen wildfires ravage Australia, an impeachment trial for the president of our country, a helicopter crash that has killed one of the greatest and well-known basketball players of all time, and a strand of the coronavirus that is making its way from China into the rest of the world. At the same time, we’ve experienced moments of happiness over a child making the soccer team, going to the movie with friends, spending time with family, a promotion at work, answered prayer, spending more time in God’s Word, and ministering to those around us. Life is a journey and one that is filled with blessings and tragedy. But life with Christ is one that is also filled with hope. It’s filled with hope because we know that there is more to life than this life. Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The hope that is found in Christ is that we are on a journey that is full of meaning and purpose. It is a journey that leads to an eternal destination where we will be all that we were meant to be and enjoy life with God forever. It is this hope that helps us navigate the blessings and tragedies in the journey of life. As we journey together let us consider how we can encourage and challenge one another to keep our minds set on the things above and the glory that is to be revealed to us.
When you think of 20/20 you probably think of vision. If you have 20/20 vision then you’re able to see something clearly that is normally seen from a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/100 vision then what you see clearly from 20 feet a normal person can see from 100 feet. So if you have 20/20 vision then you are seeing things normally and clearly.
We are leaving behind 2019 and entering the year 2020. As we move into this new year I wonder what your vision will be? What are you hoping to become? What are you wanting God to do in your life? What are you trusting God to do in the life of The Hill Baptist Church? These are questions that you and I need to consider as we move into this new year. We know God wants us to change and we know that He has given us all that we need to change. We know God wants us to help others change by sharing the gospel and discipling them in their faith. What will that look like for you in 2020? What will that look like for our church?
Let us enter this new year with 20/20 vision. Let us enter this new year with our eyes clearly fixed on Christ and His mission. Let us trust God to give our church a renewed vision for what He wants us to be and what He wants us to accomplish. I’m looking forward to what God is going to do in and through us in 2020!
I was reading this morning in a devotional I’ve been working through on the book of Proverbs. The passage was about what the “bottom line” should be in business. Should it be profit or the common good? The author explained that the “bottom line” shouldn’t be how much money we can make but what is best for the community. This is true in business but it’s also true in the church. Our church’s “bottom line” is to love God, love people, and make disciples. That’s why we exist and if you are trying to get the church to deviate from that “bottom line” then you are steering her away from God’s plan.
There are many ways we can attempt to steer the church away. We can begin to focus too much on methods and tools that we use to accomplish our mission rather than the mission itself. When this happens we become resistant to change and resistant to try new ways of doing things. It’s so much easier to keep doing what we’ve been doing. I know it is for me. However, we must take inventory and ask ourselves, “What is our “bottom line”? Is what I’m doing disconnected from the mission that God has given us? Is the way we’re doing it helping our “bottom line”? If the mission is the main thing then how would that influence how we would answer the following questions?
How do I use my time, talents, and treasure? Is my “bottom line” what will profit me the most or am I looking for ways to invest in the mission so that others will benefit?
How do I respond when someone mentions changing the way we do something? Do I get defensive or am I able to consider the suggestion in light of the mission?
How do I view the church’s building and budget? Do I see them as the mission or do I see them as tools to accomplish the mission?
There’s nothing wrong with a business that wants to be profitable. But when profit becomes the mission rather than the common good then power and greed begin to drive the business. In a similar way, the church should be a good steward of the tools and resources in her possession and seek do things well. But the methods and tools must not become the mission. If they do, then the church will become a museum instead of an active outpost for the gospel. I want to challenge you to evaluate how you view the church and your involvement in the mission. What is your “bottom line”?
The Joneses are in full swing with all our kids in school! Can you remember walking into your new classroom for the first time? For some of you, you were full of excitement. For others of you, you were full of anxiety. Whether you were excited or anxious, if you saw a friend in that class it made the experience better. On Sunday mornings, some people walk into our church building for the first time. Some may be excited and others may be anxious. But what will make their experience better is if they encounter a friendly face. What will make their experience even better than that is to get know some of the people that are members of our church family. The two best ways for you to get to know those who worship at The Hill is to join a Community Group and join a Sunday School Class.
The purpose of a Community Group is to help you get to know people and to help people get to know you. The Community Groups will meet on the 4th Sunday of the month and will gather for a meal or some activity. The main purpose is to get together and build relationships. Throughout the month of August you have had the opportunity to sign up to be in a Community Group. It’s not too late to sign up but I would encourage to do it in the next week or so. You can fill out a Community Group Card or you can sign up on our website. We will be publishing the Community Group list soon. Then the groups will begin to plan their first gathering for Sunday, September 22nd. This is a great opportunity for you to meet new people as well as invite others to meet those who worship at The Hill.
If you haven’t joined a Sunday School Class then I want to encourage you to join one this Sunday. I’m starting a new study beginning on Sunday, September 8th. We will be going through a study called The Reason for God. It’s a six week video based study that will address six questions people tend to ask about Christianity. The six questions are:
1. Isn’t the Bible a Myth?
2. How Can You Say There Is Only One Way to God?
3. What Gives You the Right to Tell Me How to Live My Life?
4. Why Does God Allow Suffering?
5. Why Is the Church Responsible for So Much Injustice?
6. How Can God Be Full of Love and Wrath at the Same Time?
I’m looking forward to diving into this study with you all! If you’re not in a Sunday School class or if this topic interests you then join us on Sunday, September 8th at 9:45am in Room 216.
I want to challenge you to participate in these two ways of connecting to those who worship here at The Hill!
As a parent of children that are still in school, August marks the beginning of a new school year. August begins a new season for our children for learning, making friends, and playing sports. Although most of us are not in school anymore, August can mark the beginning of a new season for us as well. It can be a new season for learning, making friends, and being active in God’s mission. We can continue to learn as we gather in small groups to study the Bible. If you haven’t joined a Sunday School class then I strongly encourage you to do so. That small group gathering at 9:45am on Sundays is one of the best ways to learn. I also encourage you to join us on Wednesday evenings. We gather in the Social Hall for a meal at 5:30pm and then for prayer and Bible study at 6:15pm. Starting August 7th we will resume our study in Systematic Theology. August can mark the beginning for a new season of learning for all of us.
August can also mark the beginning for a new season of making friends. Over the past few weeks I’ve been challenging you to make friends with those around you who don’t follow Jesus. Look for ways to show them the love of God. Pray for an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. This can also be a new season for developing Christian friendships. Joining a Sunday School class is one of the best ways to build friendships with other Christians. In addition to Sunday School, we are going to be launching what we call Community Groups in the next few months. A Community Group is group of people that commit to gather together on the fourth Sunday of every month. The purpose of the Community Group is to help our church members and guests deepen their relationships with one another. The Community Group get-togethers will range from gathering for dinner at someone’s house or restaurant to attending a Green Jackets’ baseball game to meeting somewhere for dessert. The options are limitless but the purpose is to get to know one another better. If you would like to be in a Community Group, you will have the opportunity to fill out a Community Group card in the next several weeks. After a few weeks of making the cards available we will create the groups and begin meeting together. I encourage you to join one of these groups and allow August to mark the beginning of a new season of making friends!
Lastly, August can mark a season of renewed zeal for being active in God’s mission. We can become more intentional in sharing our faith. We can become more involved in one of the many ministries of our church. We can take a step of faith and try something we haven’t tried before. Whatever that may look like for you, I challenge you to allow August to mark a season of renewed zeal for being active in God’s mission.
I would like to thank everyone who helped make our Holy Week services and activities possible! Everything was wonderful from the children bringing in the palms, to the wonderful music, to the invitations that were handed out, to the egg hunt, and to the breakfast that was prepared. My prayer is that more people will experience new life in Christ as a result of these efforts!
Now that Holy Week is in our rear view mirror, it’s time to look forward into May. I’m excited about what May has in store for us. On May 1st, the first Wednesday in May, we will begin two new Bible studies. One study is a women’s study entitled “God of Covenant: A Study of Genesis 12-50” by Jen Wilkin. The other study is a men’s study entitled “33 Series: A Man and His Story.” Both studies will be held at the same time on Wednesday evenings. I want to challenge you to invite anyone you know that may be interested in attending these Bible studies.
On May 2nd we will gather together in the Social Hall at 6:30pm for the National Day of Prayer. During this time we will pray for our nation. I would love to have you join us! Then on Sunday, May 5th we are having a Vacation Bible School Volunteers’ Lunch & Interest Meeting after the 11am service. We need as much help as we can get so come out and hear about this year’s theme and all the ways that you can serve. Some of the other events coming up in May are the Parents’ Night Out on Saturday, May 11th, baby dedication on Sunday, May 12th, graduate recognition on Sunday, May 19th, and fellowship club on Tuesday, May 21st.
May is shaping up to be a month full of various opportunities to worship and serve the Lord! During Holy Week we focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus. We reflected on what happened that week many years ago and what the significance is for us today. In Christ we have receive new life and that new life is meant to be lived out today. Let’s live out this new life this month and make the most of the opportunities that God is going to give us!
We started out 2018 with a challenge. The challenge came from James 2:18 that says, “I will show you my faith by my works.” I challenged you to make your faith tangible this year. Merriam-Webster defines the word this way:
Tangible - capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch: substantially real
The idea is that if we have faith in Jesus then that faith will show itself in our lives. It will become tangible. Our faith will be able to be experienced to some degree by those around us.
To accomplish this challenge I presented you with a Tangible Project of the Month. Here are the projects that we’ve accomplished so far this year.
January - Replenished our Food Pantry with Nonperishable food items
February - Donated hundreds of dollars of Subway Gift Cards to bless our neighbors
with a free lunch
March - Gave and exceeded our $2,500 Annie Armstrong Mission Offering goal which
helps support gospel-centered ministries throughout North America
April - Volunteered at Monte Sano Elementary School for CityServe Augusta and
donated baby items to the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center
May - Provided an end of the year luncheon for all the faculty and staff at Monte Sano
June - Donated items for Homeless Care Packs for the Tapestry Church in Atlanta
July - Collected school supplies for Monte Sano Elementary School
August - Gave and exceeded our goal of $1,200 to support the Cru and YoungLife
ministries here in Augusta
September - Gave and exceeded our goal of $1,000 to support the ministry efforts of
the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in the state of Georgia
October - Replenished our Food Pantry with can and donated several bags of candy for
our Halloween Outreach
November - Brought in many coats and socks to be donated to the Broad Street
Reading over that list is so encouraging for me. Each and every month you have stepped up to the challenge and exceeded my expectations. We have one more Tangible Project to accomplish in 2018. This last project for the year has two parts.The first part is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the second part is the ministry budget of our church.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is one way we give to reach the nations with the gospel. Every dollar you give does directly to the work of reaching every nation for Christ. This offering is one of the main ways we help fund international missionaries through the International Mission Board. Our goal this year is $3,500. In order to donate you can make your check payable to “The Hill Baptist Church” and write “Lottie Moon” on the envelope or you can use a Lottie Moon Offering Envelope.
The second part of our Tangible Project is to help our church finish the year fully funded. The good news is that we are projecting that we will end the year under budget with our expenses. We are projecting that our end of the year expenses will total $258,000. As of November 11th our giving totaled $209,000. In order to end the year fully funded we need to give $49,000 by the end of the year.
I’m looking forward to how God is going to have each of us respond to these challenges. I believe we will all be stretched in our faith. Also, I believe we will be encouraged as we see that our giving results in many people to be reached with the gospel both here in Augusta and around the world. Thank you for all you have done this year and let’s finish the year strong!
I’m excited to report that you have gone above and beyond in your giving to our Tangible Project for August. I challenged you to give a total of $1,200 to support two local outreach ministries to the kids in our area (YoungLife and Cru). You not only met that goal but exceeded it! I’m so thankful to serve in a church that seeks to imitate the generosity of God in their giving!
As we enter September, I have another challenge for you. We need to continue to give to the ministry budget of our church. We have fallen behind but I believe we can catch up by the end of the year! With that said, we have another opportunity to leverage our finances for kingdom impact. Our Tangible Project for September is to donate $1,000 to the Mission Georgia Offering. My challenge to you is to continue to give generously to our budget. In addition to that I want to challenge you to prayerfully consider giving a special gift to help us meet our Mission Georgia goal of $1,000.
To help you understand why we are collecting this offering read this description from the Georgia Baptist Mission Board about what God is doing in the state of Georgia.
“God has uniquely scattered a variety of diverse people across Georgia. Our state is the 8th most populated state with the 10th fastest growth rate in our nation. The estimated population in 2018 is 10.55M, having grown 18.3% since 2000. The projected growth rate could reach 14.7 million by 2030. Over 1 million residents use another a primary language other than English.
Every culture, race, and nationality represented in Georgia is an opportunity for spiritual impact through Georgia Baptists. Only 55.8% of current Georgia residents were born in Georgia. God created every person in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and God’s Word declares, “…it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” (Matthew 18:14 HCSB)
Look around you. In your community there are many ages represented. There is no part of our vast state that does not have a need for Christ. It is estimated that 70% of Georgians do not have a Gospel-centered faith and have little or no attachment to an evangelical church. God has given us a wide field to harvest His spiritual fruit for His glory.
Taking the ageless Gospel to all ages and persons is not an option; it is Christ’s command. We are responsible for sharing the “way, the truth, and the life” of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This is our mission and purpose as believers. It is also our privilege.
Your gifts to the Mission Georgia Offering undergird the funding needed to assist churches in starting new churches to reach the unreached. Your generosity helps train thousands of Georgia Baptist volunteers and pastors to maximize and coordinate their spiritual energies in making disciples. God has brought the world to Georgia.”
If you would like to make a donation to this offering then make your check out to “The Hill Baptist Church” and put “Mission Georgia” on the envelope. Join with me as we prayerfully consider what God would have us give to meet this goal!
Did you know that nearly 8 out of 10 people that become Christians do so before their 21st birthday? In an article published by the Barna Group entitled “Evangelism is Most Effective Among Kids” states the following:
“The current Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept
Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that
two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ
before their 18th birthday. One out of eight born again people (13%) made their
profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. Less than one out of every four born
again Christians (23%) embraced Christ after their twenty-first birthday. Barna
noted that these figures are consistent with similar studies it has conducted
during the past twenty years.”
These are eye opening statistics and ones that tell us of the extreme importance of reaching children with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a church we are blessed to have in our membership two couples that spend the best hours of their days reaching kids for Christ.
One couple is Jonathan and Christa Beaufort who serve with Cru. Cru’s mission is to win college students to Christ, build them up in their faith, and send them out to reach the world. Jonathan and Christa have been on staff with Cru for 17 years. They are passionate about reaching the over 10,000 college students here in Augusta. On Sunday, August 12th Jonathan will be sharing more about the ministry of Cru during our 11am worship service.
The other couple is Clay and Christy Bagby who serve with YoungLife. YoungLife’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Clay serves as the director of YoungLife here in our area which includes both Richmond and Columbia counties. You may not know this but there are over 20,000 high school students in our area. YoungLife serves as an outreach arm of the church to reach these students with the gospel. On Sunday, August 19th Clay will be sharing more about the ministry of YoungLife during our 11am worship service.
This leads me to share with you what our Tangible Project of the month of August will be. Our Tangible Project is to collect an offering to support these two strategic ministries. Our goal is to raise at least $1,200. However much we raise by the end of the month we will divide it and donate it to these two ministries. Here is how you can give. You can make your check out to “The Hill Baptist Church” and write on your donation envelope “Cru Offering” or “YoungLife Offering.”
We are very blessed to have the Beauforts and the Bagbys as part of our church family. Their ministries are very strategic and it is a privilege for us to be involved in helping them reach kids for Christ! Prayerfully consider what you can give above and beyond your regular giving to the ministry of our church to help support these two ministries.
This morning I was reading Paul’s letter to Philemon. As you may know, Paul is writing to Philemon regarding a man named Onesimus. Onesimus owed Philemon a debt and instead of paying off the debt through this servitude he ran away. As he was running away he encountered Paul. As you can imagine, it wouldn’t be long after someone encountered the Apostle Paul that they would hear the gospel. This is what happened to Onesimus and he responded to the gospel message and placed his faith in Jesus. Paul’s letter to Philemon is a request. Paul is requesting that Philemon forgive the debt that Onesimus owes and charge it to Paul’s account. What a great picture of the gospel! The sacrifice of Christ made Paul a sacrificial person for the good of others. You and I share the same faith of Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon. We have the opportunity to share the gospel and our lives with those around us for the glory of God!
A few verses especially stood out to me as I was reading this short letter. Paul writes in verses 4-6:
4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of
your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the
saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full
knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
He says in verse 6, “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective.” Paul is praying that Philemon will continue to share his faith with others in word and deed and in doing so he will grow into a fuller knowledge of Christ. Specifically, Paul challenged Philemon to exercise his faith in forgiving the debt that Onesimus owed and receive him as a brother (vs 15-18).
There are many ways we can “share” our faith with those around us. Ultimately, we know that saving faith comes by hearing the gospel. In all the ways we share our faith we want to help people come to know Jesus. We can share our faith through how we treat those around us. If we treat them in a way Jesus would treat them then we are sharing with them our faith. They are catching a glimpse of the type of God we serve. As our actions reinforce our message, the credibility of our witness grows.
This year we have been seeking to share our faith in two main ways. First, we always want to look for opportunities to tell people how they can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus. Second, we have been trying to make our faith tangible. We’ve been exercising our faith in ways that bless our community and show them a glimpse of the God we serve. As we enter the second half of 2018 we want to continue this emphasis. For the month of July we will be collecting school supplies for Monte Sano Elementary. Throughout the month you can bring in pencils, pens, copy paper, hand sanitizer, notebook paper, glue sticks, markers, folders, notebooks, dry erase markers, and crayons. At the end of the month we will take the supplies to the school where they can distribute them to those that need them. You have been doing a great job so far with the tangible projects! Let’s keep up the good work and bring in more school supplies than ever!