Before You Leave Your Church…

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I’ve been in the ministry now for a little over five years. During this time frame, I have observed several things. First, in terms of church attendance, you can pretty much bank on the rhythm that people come and people go. No matter if you are a big church or a small church, people will certainly come and people will most certainly go. Second, as a pastor who dials into people’s church attendance, it hurts when someone leaves the church. Perhaps it shouldn’t, but it does. You form friendships and relationships with people and when they are taken from you, it hurts. Thirdly, and this is perhaps a bit of an ouchy statement, but I firmly believe that far too many people leave their church family too early and for too many trivial (even selfish) reasons. Things like loyalty, commitment, and dedication are lost values upon Americans as a whole, and lost values upon Evangelical Americans in particular. Yeah, I know, I told you that this point was going to sting a little. Perhaps it should.

Well, let me encourage you. Are you a part of a local church family? Then stay committed to that church family. Don’t give up on them. I know they are messy, imperfect, and disappointing at times, but don’t throw in the towel on the church family that you joined. Love them. Enjoy them. And more than that, serve and worship with them. And if you must leave your church, then do these things (as outlined by Mark Dever of 9Marks Ministries) before you actually go.

Before You Decide to Leave Your Church…

  1. Pray.
  2. Let your current pastor know about your thinking before you move to another church or make your decision to relocate to another city. Ask for his counsel.
  3. Weigh your motives. Is your desire to leave because of sinful, personal conflict or disappointment? If it’s because of doctrinal reasons, are these doctrinal issues significant?
  4. Do everything within your power to reconcile any broken relationships. Be humble. Recognize you don’t have all the facts and assess people and circumstances charitably (give them the benefit of the doubt).
  5. Be sure to consider all the “evidences of grace” you’ve seen in the church’s life – places where God’s work is evident. If you cannot see any evidences of God’s grace, you might want to examine your own heart once more.

If You Still Plan To Go…

  1. Don’t divide the body.
  2. Take the utmost care not to sow discontent even among your closest friends. Remember, you don’t want anything to hinder their growth in grace in this church.
  3. Deny any desire to gossip (sometimes referred to as “venting” or “saying how you feel”).
  4. Pray for and bless the congregation and its leadership. Look for ways of doing this practically.
  5. If there has been hurt, then forgive – even as you have been forgiven.

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

From time to time, I get asked the following theological question: What about the spiritual gifts? Are all the spiritual gifts (outlined in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and 1 Peter 4) still in operation today? Specifically, what about the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and direct revelation from God? Well, here is Prairie Flower’s official answer, followed by three BIG thoughts to consider…

Prairie Flower’s Official Answer: “We believe that the miraculous gifts of the Early Church in the 1st Century are no longer commonplace for today. That is to say, we believe that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and direct revelation from God are no longer commonplace for today because of the completion of the Bible. Further, we believe that divine healing is a part of God’s provision for believers today, but we reject divine healers and the belief that healing of the body is included in the atonement (1 Cor. 12:1-15:41, James 5:13-16).”

Three BIG Thoughts to Consider:

  1. We believe God can do anything. Specifically, God can do anything consistent with His will. We should never “put God in a box” and say that He will or won’t do this or that. No, God can do anything consistent with His will. Do the spectacular and miraculous gifts of the 1st Century still happen today? Perhaps. God can do ANYTHING consistent with His will. Indeed, we have heard some amazing stories from missionaries overseas that have truly dazzled our minds and complicated our straightforward theology on spiritual gifts. However, we maintain that such demonstrations of God’s power (i.e. the spectacular, miraculous gifts) are simply not normative or commonplace for today.
  2. We believe that God still speaks to us today. Indeed, God’s primary method of speaking to us today comes through His Word, the Bible. Too many Christians search for the audible voice of God in their lives, when they simply need to crack open the written voice of God in their lives. God’s Word is complete, sufficient, and totally authoritative on all matters related to our lives and faith. Want to hear from God today? Simply open up the book that He wrote, and He will speak to you!
  3. We believe that God is still in the business of transforming lives. Yes, God still transforms people by the Gospel, His Word, and His Spirit. These three things are the means of God’s transforming work in our lives today. Don’t go searching for mountain peak experiences with God (whether at church, conferences, or concerts). No, simply share and live out the Gospel, read His Word, and follow His indwelling Spirit in your life. Does God do some amazing transforming work in the big mountain peak moments of life? Certainly. But God sometimes does his best transforming work in the little valley moments of our lives. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing in your life.

Guest Blogger: Scott Owen, “It Is What It Is…Or Is It?”

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The above phrase has been a top cliché for years; indicating acceptance and the need to move on. Understandably, it shows up as #2 in Alex Wong’s (sportsonearth.com) “64 Top Sport’s Clichés Ranked” (March 2017). This statement is not only a cliché, but it can immediately stifle any further consideration of the situation. But what if it isn’t what it is? What if your assessment of a painful situation is not accurate? As an athlete, fresh off a loss, trying to move on in an interview is adequate (though predictable). But what if you are in a relationship that is failing due to unresolved conflict? In this case, it is more likely a resignation that there is no hope that things are going to improve; and a sign that acceptance and moving on is probably not going to be a good thing.

I grew up fearing conflict and doing all in my power to avoid it or escape it. I quit many teams and relationships when things got a bit more challenging than I had planned. I never uttered the words “it is what it is” (the phrase was not popular back then), but I lived out its most negative connotations. Since then, God has helped me to see conflict as more than something to fear. Here are three truths about conflict that can help you really see what it is:

  • It is an opportunity to bring glory to God. We are told to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Reconciliation with God is supernatural. There is no fleshly reason or means for us to be right with a holy God. Similarly, there are times when personal reconciliation between two bitter people can only be done supernaturally. Even though we do not have control over the other person, we can have hope during the conflict. We have an option to please God with our own actions. Peace, comfort, progress, and unity are all great goals. However, when we are motivated by a drive to glorify God, we can avoid the pitfalls of manipulation, anger, pride, and other sins that may crop up in our pursuit of peace, comfort, progress, or unity.
  • It is an opportunity to become more like Jesus. Being shaped into God’s image can be painful. If you consider what typically happens to shape something – carving, compression, sanding, testing none of that sounds pleasant. Conflicts are trials that should not be wasted. They can be intense, complicated, and inconsistent, but they can be beneficial. Financial and physical conflicts tend to have black and white solutions – professional help for each abounds. People pain is harder to address – where can you buy a solution for this? Choosing to lean on God through a conflict (James 1:2-4), rather than trying to escape the trial is an effective route to character development. Consider viewing conflict as a part of the spiritual growth process. You can’t always gain peace with someone (Romans 12:18), but you can grow as you pursue peace.
  • It is an opportunity to refine your ability to love and serve. Despite our calling to love others, Christians are not that great at loving. We are far better at trading kindness for kindness and calling it love. We determine how we want to be treated, treat others accordingly, but become resentful or angry when their response falls short. They simply did not trade properly. Jesus said that loving those that love you is no different from what unbelievers do (Luke 6). Biblical love is the capacity to love someone out of the overflow of love we have from Jesus. Conflict is an excellent place to test and grow that type of love.

God uses difficult relationships for three main things: to bring glory to Himself; help us become more like His Son; and to teach us how to love and serve like Jesus does. A proper focus on these three aspects of conflict keeps us from blame-shifting, resentment, or fearful fleeing of difficult circumstances. It also gives us a clear picture of what “is” really is.

From The Associate Pastor/Coach’s Desk: Three Thoughts…

Basketball Coach

I can’t believe that another year of basketball is in the books. This season was a unique one, to say the least. It started off with learning how to use an overflowing bench (we had twenty-one players on the team), and then it finished with some crazy weather & cancellations. At the end of the season, we had to go a week without any practices or games, play a game or two, and then go another week without any practices or games. Despite all the craziness, it was a great season. This was the most talented group I have ever coached, and we ended up finishing 16-0! Even though our record was perfect, I still learned a lot throughout the season about coaching and people. Which, to be honest, is one of my favorite parts. I think the only thing better is watching the kids learn all the same lessons.

You have to be a fan and a critic – As Christians, one important goal we should have in all of our relationships is to help others grow. However, this can be very difficult and frustrating at times. If you are only someone’s fan, then that person will begin to think that they can do no wrong and will stop self-evaluating. If you are only someone’s critic, then that person will begin to think they can do no right, and they will stop taking opportunities to grow because they think they will fail anyway. It truly takes a balance of love and truth. You can build a lot of “relational stock” in someone by being a voice of encouragement to them. That way, when you do need to tell them about an area of improvement, they can trust that you have their best interests in mind. I had a really tough time this year teaching one of my players the importance of this principal, but it was so fun to see it finally click with this player. In fact, it wasn’t until one of the last JV games that this player of mine finally figured it out, and the way it changed the team’s demeanor on the court blew me away!

None of us are going to strike a perfect balance because we all have tendency to lean one way or the other. Personally, I struggle with being too big of a fan. So, I would just say to be very conscious of which way you lean and ask the Lord for strength in those moments you struggle with the other.

Difficulty brings people together – Another goal we should have as Christians is unity. This may seem like a no brainer, but as of late, churches really struggle with this. I believe this comes from people shying away from difficulty (myself included). As Christians, we have an idea that when life is easy, then God is happy with us; and when life is hard, then God must be upset with us. So, we rush around trying to get back to easy. Relationships get hard, so we stop pursuing. Church is imperfect, so we find another one. Life gets busy, so we stop serving. And after it’s all said and done, we find ourselves “disconnected”.  I might get myself into trouble by saying this, but I really believe God grows us together more through adversity than through ease. At the beginning of our basketball season we were blowing teams out of the water, and it was fun, to a degree. It was fun because it gave the bench an opportunity to play, but after a while it got old (even for the players). I just never felt that sense of “team” like I had in previous years when the game was close, or we would be down and have to fight our way back into it. Finally, our last two home games were two of the toughest games I have ever been a part of, and they ended with all twenty-two of us jumping up and down, hugging each other, and celebrating in the locker room. And I don’t think it was because we won. I think it was because we went through something difficult together, and it completely changed our team for the better!

People are sinners, and the church is filled with them. It’s imperfect, which means that serving takes sacrifice. We have to stop scattering to the four winds every time something gets difficult. Instead, we need to focus on how God is using the difficulty to grow us and bring us together for our good and, most importantly, His glory.

Don’t get results and goals mixed – This is a lesson I learned in reading about Coach “K” (The University of Duke), and it is one of my favorite things I have learned. The lesson is to not mix up goals and results. A lot of coaches say that the goal is to win, but I struggle with that mentality. If wining is a goal, then you will be okay for really poor effort in a win to a really bad team and be frustrated with really great effort in a loss against a team that was just better than you. Instead, we need to focus on our effort in what we can control every night. That looks different for everyone. For some players, it might be doing his best to score twenty points every night, but for another player, it might be cheering for his team and reminding his team to box out every time there is a shot.

I think this translates to the Christian life really well because all too often we get caught up in making “good results” our goal. We desire to have a godly family, a thriving relationship with the Lord, or to be a spiritual leader in our church or home. Those are great results, but too ethereal to be goals. If you want a godly family, then focus on leading your family in devotions on a regular basis or having intentional conversations at the dinner table. If you want a thriving relationship with the Lord, then focus on being in His Word on regular basis or setting aside intentional time to pray. If you want to be a spiritual leader, then focus on serving in your local body. Quite expecting others to serve you and start focusing on helping others grow in their walk with the Lord. If you stay committed, and are faithful, then the results will take care of themselves. The results might not be what you thought they were going to be, but you can honestly know that you did your best and can trust the Lord with the results He provides!

I love sports for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is that you have opportunity to be regularly put in high pressure situations so that you can practice what God is teaching you!

Think, Pray, Process…

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Last weekend we had the incredible privilege of having Tim O’Tool and his family with us for Candidation Weekend. He did a great job. From the Q & A Session on Saturday night to his Bible lesson on Sunday morning, Tim demonstrated a true passion for God, His Word, and the people of God. During this dynamic weekend, Tim also proved that he has the experience necessary to hit the ground running at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. In other words, from Tim’s years of experience at High Pointe Church in Altoona, IA, he has a proven track record in working with children, youth, and volunteers. He also has great experience in teaching (both children and adults), administration, and management. In addition to this, he has practical experience in church budgeting matters and church discipline matters. In short, Tim is not a novice to pastoral ministry, but has good experience that will aid him well, if it’s indeed God’s will that he should come to PFBC in April or May 2019. Indeed, the vote for Tim O’Tool is slotted for Sunday, February 24…and may God’s will be done! In fact, as you gear up for this important vote, let me encourage you again to do three things:

  1. Think – Take everything that you saw and heard over this past weekend and think about it. Think through Tim’s life and ask yourself, “From his birth in Carroll, IA to his present-day situation at High Pointe Church in Altoona, IA, has God been preparing Tim for PFBC this whole time?” Think through Tim’s pastoral experience and ask yourself, “With so much experience in different areas of church ministry, has God been molding and shaping Tim for ministry at PFBC this whole time?” Think through Tim’s family and ask yourself, “Do I honestly see this family at home with my family out here on the prairie?”
  2. Pray – After some serious thought, take some time to pray. And pray passionately! Ultimately, we want God’s will to be done, not our own will. Indeed, take all of your thoughts and questions to God in prayer. Lay it all down at His feet. Beg God for wisdom, discernment, clarity, and unity. A vote for a new Associate Pastor is certainly exciting, but we need God’s help and direction. Pray. Then pray again. And may God’s will be done!
  3. Process – The weekend before the vote, I would take Tim’s resume, your Bible (opened to Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11-16, and Matt. 5:14-16), and a notebook. Process in a moment in time all of Tim’s qualifications and experiences. Match up Tim’s life with the mission and vision of God found in Matt. 28:18-20, Eph. 4:11-16, and Matt. 5:14-16. Then ask yourself, “Does Tim’s life match the heartbeat of the mission and vision of God?” Then flip over to 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and consider the biblical qualifications of a pastor/elder/bishop. Think to yourself, “Does Tim’s life match up to these qualifications?” Journal some thoughts in a notebook. Perhaps talk to your spouse about your thoughts. Pray alone or with your spouse. And then, on Sunday, Feb. 24, confidently cast your ballot as the Lord has led you.

Prairie Flower, this is a special and strategic time in the life of our church. Please be in prayer for Tim and his family. They too need God’s wisdom and discernment. And as the vote for Tim approaches, be sure to think, pray, and process. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please approach anyone on the PFBC Leadership Team. We would be glad to help.

Initial Q & A With Our Associate Pastoral Candidate…

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Associate Pastor Ministry Description: To assist and support the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church (PFBC) with the overall leadership and administration of the church, advancing the church’s Mission and Vision “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” The Associate Pastor of PFBC will be the Lead Pastor’s Chief Advisor and Prayer Partner on all matters related to the church. The Associate Pastor will actively participate in the Teaching Ministry, Visitation Ministry, and Outreach Ministry of the church. Specifically, the Associate Pastor of PFBC will be given direct management and oversight of the Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministry, and Small Group Ministries of the church. This ministry, on average, will consist of 45-50 hours of work per week, with some weeks being far more with emergencies, funerals, etc. Also, as with any job or ministry, there will most certainly be other duties as assigned.

  1. How passionate are you about this type of full-time pastoral ministry? Would you have any competing interests or conflicts of interest as you enter this type of ministry?Since my sophomore year in college I have felt the continual call of God in my life. I have had multiple secular jobs that I excelled at, but even though I mainly enjoyed the work, I was never satisfied as I always found more joy and fulfillment in whatever ministry I was participating in. The struggle has been always wanting to represent Christ through my work at my secular employment while also trying to give my best to the church. Ultimately, I believe I need to be using my gifts in a full-time vocational ministry.”
  2. How does your wife feel about you being in this type of full-time pastoral ministry? Is she excited about the possibility of moving to southeast Iowa?My wife has always participated with me in most of the ministries I have performed. She has always been a huge source of encouragement and a great partner. I can confidently say she and I are excited to continue to walk down this road together.”
  3. All pastoral ministry is Gospel ministry. Describe both your Gospel conversion and your calling into the Gospel ministry.I grew up in a Christian home where we were regularly taught the Gospel. I accepted the Gospel at a very young age when my mother explained that my sin separated me from God and condemned me to an eternity in Hell. However, through the free gift of Christ because of His work on the cross, God offers forgiveness to all who repent and call on His name. I did that at age four and have been trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross ever since. The reason I believe that I am called into the Gospel ministry is that I recognize that God uses the faithfulness of believers to bring the Gospel to the lost. Because I am so thankful to have grown up in a setting where I could hear the Gospel, and that was the means that God used in my own conversion, I in turn want to be an instrument to further God’s work in the lives of believers and non-believers for the Gospel.”
  4. Let’s talk church polity: What is the ideal relationship between pastors, deacons, and the congregation?The pastors (both vocational and lay pastors) should be men of the highest quality. They should be men who embody the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus. These men should be the ones who provide the vision and primary leadership for the church, but their primary role is to care for the spiritual needs of the church. Deacons should also be men who meet the deacon qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy and Titus, but their role differs somewhat from that of the pastors/elders. The deacons should play an advisory role to the pastors as well as looking out for the physical needs of the flock. They should also be ‘shock absorbers’ in that they are promoting unity through their words and actions. The congregation should take an active role in searching the Scriptures to hold their leadership accountable to abide by biblical mandates. Everyone involved needs to humbly seek God’s will and be looking out for other’s interests and viewing others as more important than self. The pastors should never try to lord it over the flock or ram things down their throat that the congregation is not on board with. They should lovingly lead the flock not exercise dominion over them.”
  5. What are your greatest strengths in ministry? Conversely, what are your greatest weaknesses in ministry?I believe that my greatest strength in ministry is that I have a passion to see believers grow and become more sanctified. It is that passion that drives me to love and want to spend time with Christians. Because I often wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t know Christ, it makes me strive to push others around me to find joy and fulfillment in walking with Christ themselves. When it comes to my greatest weaknesses, I would say that I have the propensity to allow weariness to lead to procrastination with tasks that I am not passionate about.”
  6. Describe the most painful moment of your entire life/ministry. What did you learn? How was God faithful?We recently had a miscarriage. I love being a father and was looking forward to another child so much. I had to constantly remind myself (and still do) that none of my children, or future children ,or really anything I have for that matter truly belongs to me. Everything I have belongs to God and He has promised that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I think for me, I have never struggled having faith in God’s omnipotence. I know God can do whatever He wants. I guess where my faith is demonstrated to be weak is trusting that even the things that don’t feel good, God allows it, and it really is good. I think coming to grips with this will be a continual lifelong process.”

 

CANDIDATION WEEKEND DETAILS

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019

5:30 PM = Opening Remarks/Prayer/Food Fellowship

6:30 PM = Q & A Time: Text Questions to 850-776-5504

8:00 PM = Game Night: Family Feud!

9:00 PM = Final Remarks/Prayer/Dismissal

Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019

9:00 AM = Combined Sunday School: “Being a Doer of the Word”

9:45 AM = Prairie Time/Name Tag Sunday

10:15 AM = Morning Worship Service: “Mission, Vision, and Leadership” w/Mini Q & A to Follow…Sermons by Tim O’Tool Found at http://highpointealtoona.com/sermon-speaker/tim-otool/

12:00 PM = Growth Groups/Small Group Time

 

What does it mean that we are #prairiestrong?

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Often you will hear people out here on the prairie talk about the fact that we are (or are endeavoring to be) #prairiestrong. What does that mean exactly? Does it mean we all endeavor to have big muscles with great physical abilities? Not at all. Check out the video below to see how #prairiestrong is more than a catchy phrase, it’s what the Christian life is all about…

New Associate Pastor Details!

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Below are the projected details concerning Tim O’Tool’s Candidation Weekend (Feb. 9 -10):

Saturday, Feb. 9…

5:30 PM = Opening Remarks/Opening Prayer/Food Fellowship (Soup & Salad Supper…)

6:30 PM = Q & A Time

8:00 PMish = Game Night

9:00 PMish = Final Remarks/Closing Prayer/Dismissal

– Please Note: All of Saturday’s Events will take place in our Fellowship Hall.

Sunday, Feb. 10…

9:00 AM = Combined Sunday School (Tim will be teaching upstairs in the Auditorium. 1st Grade – Adults are invited to participate.)

9:45 AM = Prairie Time

10:15 AM = Morning Worship Service (Tim will not be preaching, but I will have him engage with me in a Mini Q & A Session…)

12:00 PMish = Growth Groups

– Please Note: This will be a dynamic and tiring weekend for our Associate Pastor Candidate. Please pray with him and for him. The official vote for Tim O’Tool is slotted for Sunday, February 24. May God’s will be done!

From the Associate Pastor’s Desk: My Favorite Podcasts…

podcasts

I don’t know about you, but one of the many joys I have discovered in life is the joy of learning! I have not always been this way. In fact, for much of my life, I did not like learning. I am not sure why I changed, but now I love it! There are many different ways of learning though.

  • You can learn by doing. Which is how I learn best.
  • You can learn by watching. I love a good documentary on war or basketball.
  • You can learn by reading. Almost finished my first book of 2019 already, thanks to my new year goal setting!
  • You can also learn by listening. That is what this whole blog is about.

When I say listening, I am not talking about just the classroom. With today’s technology, we have a little thing called “podcasts.” If you don’t know what a podcast is, let me explain. It is similar to a talk radio show, except it can be downloaded from the internet onto your phone or computer. Podcasts are often series that are made up of many episodes that come out regularly for listeners to follow. On phones, they are found on different apps such as Apple Podcasts, Podbean, Stitcher, or Spotify. If you still don’t understand, maybe ask someone who is tech savvy and I am sure they could help you out. I love listening to podcasts while I work on a project, drive, or do other mind-numbing tasks like dishes or laundry.

The best part about podcasts is that they are free (for now). The downside to podcasts though is that they are extremely underrated and still a new (but growing) phenomena. This means it can be hard to find quality podcasts. They are fairly unregulated, so you have to be careful with some of the content that is out there. Nonetheless, they can be a great tool for personal development and growth. So, I thought I would share some of my favorite podcasts. So, here are my top nine podcasts, broken down into categories.

Spiritual and Thought Provoking…

  1. Dallas Theological Seminary Chapel – Every week, while school is in session, DTS has chapel services led by some of the best, brightest, and most inspiring Christians in the world. DTS records the sermons and regularly puts them on their podcast. This has been an excellent source for spiritual growth, and you will never hear a dull sermon!
  2. The Table Podcast – This podcast is put on by DTS as well. It is hosted by Dr. Darrell Bock the Executive Director of Cultural Engagement. Dr. Bock picks current and uprising cultural issues to discuss in order to help Christians think through them critically. The focus is reaching the lost without compromising our beliefs and the truth.
  3. Ask Pastor John – This is a short one hosted by Tony Reinke and Pastor John Piper with Desiring God. People write in questions for Pastor John Piper and he answers one question a day. It is about ten minutes an episode, so it is good for a short trip or getting ready in the morning.

Purely Educational Entertainment...I never thought those words would be coming out of my mouth 🙂

  1. Stuff You Should Know – This is a non-Christian educational podcast about anything and everything. Most of the topics would normally be labeled “dull and mundane,” but these guys do a great job of making it fun to listen to.
  2. Courtside w/ Greenburg and Dakic – This is a basketball podcast hosted by two old school college coaches. It comes out once a week during college basketball season, but they are so funny to listen to and it helps me with my coaching.
  3. TED Radio Hour – This is a non-Christian podcast much like The Table Podcast, but from a secular point of view. Different speakers talk about creative ways to solve the world’s problems with science, technology, and critical thinking. It’s really good!

Daily News and Thought Provoking…

  1. The Briefing – This podcast is one of my new favorites! It is hosted by the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Al Mohler. It is a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. You know, it is hard to watch or listen to the news without feeling like we are all doomed, but Al Mohler always ends with a message of real hope.
  2. The Ben Shapiro Show – This is a daily conservative political news podcast (wow that’s a mouth full). It is non-Christian, and the topics can be a little uncomfortable at times, but if there is a big political story, I will check it out. The host is very smart and very good at thinking critically.
  3. High Noon – This is a daily sports podcast that I think is really entertaining. Some of the jokes are hard to track because it is also a TV show, but the two hosts do a really good job at tracking daily sports in a funny way.

Well, those are my top nine podcasts. Just because I listen to them, does not mean I agree or condone all the things that are said, or the viewpoints portrayed on these shows; but they are clean for the most part, and they help keep my mind sharp and entertained. If you have a podcast you like, please feel free to share!

Annual Report From the Lead Pastor…

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Dear Members and Friends of Prairie Flower Baptist Church,

The year 2018 with all its immense blessings and burdens is now over. Indeed, this past year has been one of the most difficult, yet fruitful years of my entire ministry. So, for all that went right this past year, I give God great praise; and for all that could have been better this past year, I take full responsibility and have learned immensely through it all. In the end, I am so grateful for a grace-giving God, and for you, the generous and patient people out here on the prairie. Below is a recap of where we’ve been (by God’s grace) and where we might be going (under God’s sovereignty).

Addition:

First, let’s carefully reflect on the church growth that we experienced through the joy of addition. Indeed, the numbers below reflect not us and our success, but God and His love and mercy. The fact that God has chosen us to be mere conduits of His grace is humbling and extremely encouraging. So, with that in mind, let us rejoice in each number…in each person…that took a step of faith this past year…

  • Salvations – 9 (Our Highest Number of Salvations in 5 Years!)
  • Baptisms – 6
  • Members – 8

I know you hear me say this often, but the above numbers, and the transformed lives that each number represents, is truly what we are all about. People getting saved, baptized, and added to the church isn’t just a nicety in the church, it’s what the church is all about! Let’s celebrate the work of God in the lives that have been radically transformed by the Gospel.

Subtraction:

Second, let’s carefully reflect on the church growth that we experienced through the pain of subtraction. Indeed, though painful to remember this aspect of the past year, it is healthy and needed. To merely bury the past or, worse, try to pretend that it never happened is unwise at best and severely detrimental at worst. So, let’s somberly remember the burdens and difficulties of this past year…

  • Crisis – In March of 2018, we experienced a church crisis. Sin and selfishness ravaged our church family and left us extremely hurt and confused. This church crisis put me into a personal crisis in which I was angry and ready to simply give up. Indeed, as I have stated many times already, I did not handle this crisis with pastoral decorum, and because of that, I ended up making a bad situation worse.
  • Healing – But despite the darkest of days, the light of God’s presence, power, and provision always shines through. Yes, despite the hurt and confusion, many of you committed to stay and to fight for your church family. Thank you! Indeed, as it concerns me and my family, many of you stepped out of your way to offer prayer, words of encouragement, gifts, and much needed love to us during this difficult time. Thank you! In fact, your love and generosity were most pronounced in you sending my family and I away on a month-long sabbatical during the month of June. Again, thank you! We were helped and began to heal up in a serious way as a result of that sabbatical.
  • Leading – The rest of 2018 was a blur of praying, preaching, visitation, counseling, meetings, restructuring, camp ministries, state ministries, community outreach, and church discipline cases…In a word, leading. Indeed, as difficult and dark as the first half of 2018 was, the last half of 2018 has been the sweetest time of my entire ministry here at PFBC. Indeed, by God’s good grace, I have been able for the past six months to lead a church family that is healing, growing, reviving, and more united than ever.

Multiplication:

Third and finally, let’s examine what the God of our future could hold for us as we step into 2019 and beyond…

  • Question – Where do you see us in five years? In other words, where do you see us, as a church family, in 2024? Perhaps coming up with a five-year plan is a challenge for you, but this question merits some thinking. For me, I see us multiplying. Let me explain this by means of sharing with you my goals and ambitions for 2019…
  • Goals – I would like to accomplish, by God’s enablement, the following: 1) Ensure a smooth transition for Pastor Jon Rocha as he steps out of full-time ministry and into business in the Quad Cities. This goal also includes successfully installing Pastor Rocha’s replacement as soon as possible. 2) Examine viable solutions to our church’s outreach and prayer ministries. These two areas are probably our church’s weakest ministries and the restructuring of these ministries is required. 3) Edit the church’s Constitution to fit with our current church culture. The editing of the church’s Constitution is logical, considering in year’s past we have edited the church’s Articles of Faith (2016) and Biblical Principles of Church Membership (2018). 4) Expand our community footprint by means of a greater social media presence and community advertising. To that end, we have already launched our church’s new Facebook Page and are already over 100 LIKES, allowing us to provide helpful, encouraging, and informative material to our own people and our wider community. In a sentence, my goal for 2019 is to begin the process of multiplying our influence and impact for the Kingdom of Heaven by means of accomplishing these four items.
  • Forward – As I write this report, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14. It beautifully and poetically states what I would have you do in terms of 2018 and 2019: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” May these verses become the tone and tenor of our lives as the church out here on the prairie.

With Much Love,

David Cotner

Lead Pastor, PFBC