Sermon Series Schedule

At Prairie Flower Baptist Church we seek to be highly intentional, practical, and relevant in the construction of our sermon series. That is to say, we do not simply throw together sermons the week before the service comes. Great thought, study, prayer, and attention to detail are given to the construction of each sermon in a series. Below you will find the proposed sermon series schedule for the next four months:

Sunday, October 5 – Grace, Worry, and You!
Communion with Jon Rocha

Sunday, October 12 – Grace, Anger, and You!

Sunday, October 19 – Grace, Envy, and You!

Sunday, October 26 – Grace, Work Problems, and You!

Sunday, November 2 – Grace, Gluttony, and You!

Sunday, November 9 – Grace, Physical Infirmities, and You!

Friday, November 14 – Saturday, November 15 – IRBC College Retreat: Reboot (speaking in three sessions)

Sunday, November 16 – Our Mission: Seeing the BIG Picture
Harvest Dinner

Sunday, November 23 – Baptism Sunday!

Sunday, November 30 – BMM Missionary, Andy Scott

Sunday, December 7 – Sunday, December 28 – Four Part Sermon Series entitled, “Incarnation: When God Became Flesh”:
The Promise of His Coming
The Problems Surrounding His Coming
The Praise at His Coming
The Prayer After His Coming

Sunday, January 4 – “New Beginnings: Same Spouse, Different Marriage”

Sunday, January 11 – BMM Missionary, Rick Fessel

Sunday, January 18 – Launching of a sermon series entitled, “Our Vision”

Prairie Flower, pray. We have a lot of ground to cover in the next several months. Can’t wait!!

Three-Dimensional Ministry

On Sunday, October 26, we will be launching Growth Groups. This is a sermon-based small group Bible Study that will meet in a variety of different locations (i.e. homes, coffee shops, etc). For the time being, Growth Groups will only meet once a month (i.e. the fourth Sunday of the month) for the next eight months. Growth Groups is a significant part of our way forward…and I am excited to see how God will use this ministry in our individual lives!

In fact, did you know that Growth Groups is a three-dimensional ministry? That’s right! It serves our church on multiple levels. That is to say, it has an upward focus, an inward energy, and an outward mission. Let me explain…

1) Upward Focus – Growth Groups exists to be a spiritually constructive time where God’s Word is the primary focus. This is accomplished through a sermon-based Bible study, group sharing of how they will apply the principles of Scripture to their daily lives, and a concentrated time of prayer.

2) Inward Energy – Growth Groups also exists for the development and strengthening of biblical relationships. In other words, we want our “relationship root system” to be wide (i.e. Sunday Morning interactions) and deep (i.e. Growth Group interactions). A planned time for coffee, refreshments, and conversation is an integral part of our Growth Groups’ program.

3) Outward Mission – Growth Groups also exists as the “engine room” of our church. In other words, every Growth Group must make prayer for the unsaved and the unchurched a priority. Also, the planning of service projects and the recruitment of new Growth Group members is an essential element of our outward mission.

There you have it! Growth Groups is all about a deepening relationship with God (upward focus), a strengthening of current church relationships (inward focus), and an eye toward the future (outward mission). Growth Groups is a triple win! And yes…Growth Groups is for you! Whether you are young or old…parenting small children or grandparenting great-grandchildren…brand new church member or a long-term church member…this program is for you! Please sign up this Sunday if you are interested in this new and exciting three-dimensional ministry. It’s simply the way forward.

Have more questions? Where is Growth Groups found in Scripture? How is Growth Groups different from a clique? For the answers to these questions and more please visit with us during the Sunday School hour this Sunday, September 28 at 9:00 AM! We would love to see you there!

Upcoming Meetings…

Please keep the following dates in mind:

1) On Sunday, October 5 at 2:00 PM, your leadership team (i.e. pastor and deacons) will be meeting to discuss many items to include the organization of Growth Groups. Please keep in mind that you only have two more weeks to sign up for Growth Groups. The sign-up sheet for this is located on the bulletin board, in the foyer, and is filling up fast. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we need continual wisdom and discernment as we move forward.

2) On Sunday, October 12 at approximately 11:45 AM (i.e. immediately following the Morning Worship Service), we will conduct our Quarterly Business Meeting. This should be a standard, “normal” business meeting with no items to vote upon. The primary item of business for this meeting is to review and approve our church’s financial report.

Also, we continue to welcome Jon Rocha, our new pastoral intern, to the Prairie Flower team. His first official Sunday was yesterday, and he was able to teach the teens during the Sunday School hour. He also was able to give the welcome, announcements, and pastoral prayer during the Morning Worship Service. In fact, every weekend Jon is with us, he will be teaching the teens in Sunday School and giving the welcome, announcements, and pastoral prayer. You will also see Jon perform other pastoral duties like officiating communion, helping with our baptismal services, and even preaching every once in a while. We are so grateful for Jon and his wife, Julia, and their ministry to Prairie Flower. Again, there is a sign-up sheet in the foyer for you to house and feed Jon and Julia during the weekends they’re with us. Please sign up this Wednesday or Sunday.

Jon Rocha’s Schedule

Below you will find the proposed work schedule of our new pastoral intern, Jon Rocha. These are the dates that he will be available to minister and serve our church by means of ministering and serving our youth:

September 20 and 21

October 4 and 5…Plans to take the Youth Group to “Faith Fest” at Faith Baptist Bible College on Saturday, October 4 (Details to Follow)…
October 11 and 12
October 25 and 26

November 1 and 2
November 15 and 16
November 22 and 23

December 6 and 7
December 14

Please carefully look at the above dates and consider if you would be available to host Jon and Julia Rocha in your home. They would need a place to stay on Saturday and lunch on Sunday. This would be an excellent way for you to get to know our new pastoral intern and his wife. A sign-up sheet will be available this Sunday, September 21. Please sign up if you are interested in hosting.

Also, Jon’s primary means of communication will be via Facebook. In the next several days, Jon will be launching a Prairie Flower Youth Group Facebook Page in order to communicate with parents and teens more efficiently. More details concerning this communicative tool will come this Sunday.

Building Vision While Breeding Stability

Yesterday was an exciting day in the life of our church! With an 82% vote in his favor, Jon Rocha accepted the call to be our new pastoral intern. As was explained, his primary focus will be youth programming. He will be working two Sundays a month till his graduation in May 2015. At that time, we will revisit the issue of full-time Associate Pastor and consider Jon for this position. This is truly an exciting time in the life of our church as we envision further growth and progress.

In the next few days, Jon and I will be having a telephone conversation and a face-to-face meeting to discuss his work schedule, proposed teaching curriculum, proposed youth group activities (i.e. Faith Fest, etc.), and other pertinent topics. We will communicate the results of our meetings via this blog, our bulletin, Facebook, and verbal announcements. Our goal is to communicate with you in an efficient and accurate manner so everyone can stay in the loop. Of course, if you ever have a question about anything that is going on, please ask us directly. We would love to answer any and all of your questions.

Before I end this short blog, let me say a few words about building vision while breeding stability. Quite simply and plainly, this is the goal of my pastoral leadership. In other words, for the glory of God and the advancement of the gospel, I am endeavoring to build a vision while breeding stability. Some of you may wonder, what is the vision?! Answer: “Prairie Flower Baptist Church seeks to be an Acts 2:41 church. That is to say, we earnestly desire to see people saved, baptized, and added to the church on a regular basis. We long to be a church that is a safe-haven from the legalistic terrors of various religious denominations. We passionately long to see men stand up as leaders, women to thrive in their relationships, and children to grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Bottom line, Prairie Flower Baptist Church earnestly desires to be a GROWING, THRIVING community of Jesus Followers in southeast Iowa!” And let me be clear…Jon Rocha, and the leadership that he will provide, is a vital part in the maturing of this vision. Ultimately, it’s not about the numbers…it all about faithfulness…faithfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

But in our attempts to build a vision, how do we breed stability? Answer: We will remember that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. In other words, we will pump the breaks on any further major changes. We will allow time for the church to get use to the many changes that we have already brought about. We will allow a new season to fall upon us (no pun intended), have a hayride in October, Harvest Dinner in November, celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families, and enjoy the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is sung, preached, and taught at our church.

You see, many of you find yourselves in one of two camps…the Camp of Vision or the Camp of Stability. The unique challenge for me is to be the pastor of both camps…because both are needed! So to those of you in the Camp of Vision, whose battle cry is, “Forward! Onward! More for the glory of God!” I say to you, “Yes, but let’s mature and develop the many changes we have already brought about and let’s not forget to rest in the sovereignty of God.” To those of you in the Camp of Stability, whose battle cry is, “Peace! Unity! Let’s wait for the glory of God!” I say to you, “Yes, but don’t forget that constant discomfort is needed for the growth of any organization, to include the church, and you must trust the Lord by means of trusting your leadership (i.e. pastor and deacons).” And to both camps, let me say this, “I love you. We absolutely need to build vision while breeding stability. Both of your heartbeats are vitally necessary and important. And yes, I am listening to you. Don’t forget that I have the unique challenge of leading this church while following the Lord Jesus…and it’s harder than it looks! Pray for me. I need it.”

Ultimately, I am your shepherd. And a shepherd leads. A shepherd lovingly and carefully leads. A shepherd also must be bold and firm. It’s such a delicate balance. I sometimes wish I had the experience of a 90 year old, the fortitude of a battle-hardened military general, and the energy of a 2 year old! That would make for the perfect pastor…or so I think. But God has me right where He wants me…weak, needy, and in constant need of His grace and strength. I know I am not the perfect pastor. I know I have a long way to go in many areas of pastoral leadership, but God is so good, and with Him leading, guiding, and directing us…WE can achieve anything! So hang on Prairie Flower, God is in control.

The Next Step…

This Sunday, September 14th, we will be voting on a pastoral intern to join our team here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. This is an exciting time in the life of our church as we envision further growth and progress. Below you will find some questions and answers concerning this pastoral intern position:

Question: Why are we inviting an intern instead of voting on a pastor?
Answer: Because slow is smooth and smooth is fast. In other words, considering our church has never had an Associate Pastor before, your leadership team (i.e. pastor and deacons) feel it is wise and necessary to proceed with this process of bringing on an intern first and revisit the issue of Associate Pastor at a later date.

Question: Who is this proposed pastoral intern?
Answer: His name is Jon Rocha and he is married to his lovely wife, Julia. Here is a quick biographical sketch of this possible intern:
1. He is 24 years old and was born in Davenport, IA.
2. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies (minor in Greek) from FBBC.
3. He is an Afghanistan War Veteran, having served two tours of duty over there.
4. He has nearly three years of youth group teaching experience at Willow Creek Baptist Church in West Des Moines, IA.
5. His honors and accomplishments include the Army Commendation Medal w/Valor and completion of Air Assault School.
6. He is a self-motivated problem solver, with excellent leadership skills. He is not a preacher. Thus, he will complement my skill set adequately.

Question: What specifically will he be doing?
Answer: He will predominantly work with our youth group two weekends a month till his graduation in May 2015. At that point, the church will revisit the issue of Associate Pastor and consider Jon for this position. His tasks will include teaching, organizing youth group activities, and light administrative duties. Again, youth group will only be meeting two (at the most three) times a month till May 2015.

Question: When will we meet and vote upon this intern?
Answer: He will be meeting with the teens and their parents this Saturday, September 13th. He will present himself to the whole congregation on Sunday, September 14th during a combined youth and adult Sunday School class and during the Morning Worship Service as he and his wife will present their testimonies. We will vote upon Jon as intern after the Morning Worship Service. His proposed salary package is $1,500 a month.

Also, in our endeavors to be more effective for Jesus Christ (i.e. reaching the lost and discipling believers), we have decided to continue the successful reformat of our Sunday services. Thus, Sunday School will be from 9:00-9:45 AM, Prairie Time will be from 9:45-10:15 AM, and the Morning Worship Service will kick off at about 10:15 AM. Bear in mind that this is an all morning format with no evening service. However, even with no evening service, there will always be structured and unstructured ministries taking place during the Sunday evening hours (i.e. Friendship Bible Study, nursing home ministries, etc.)

Also, in staying true to our core value of “intentional discipleship”, we will be launching “Growth Groups” on Sunday, October 26th. This will be a sermon-based small groups Bible study that will aid in our deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. Initially, Growth Groups will only meet once a month (i.e. the fourth Sunday of the month) for the next nine months. These groups will meet in various locations throughout our community (i.e. coffee shops, Hy-Vee, etc.)A sign-up sheet for Growth Groups will be available this Sunday, September 14th.

This is the way forward. Remember…we (i.e. your pastor and deacons) love you, we long to hear from you, and we will endeavor to communicate more often with you. Please be in prayer, and vote as the Lord leads, as we all seek to move forward for the glory of God!

Lessons From War – Part 3

Not only did the Iraq War teach me that life is short and should be lived for the glory of God and the good of others, but the war also impressed upon me the fact that God is God, and I am not. He gives and takes life as He sees fit. In other words, I learned that God is absolutely sovereign!

During the Iraq War I served as an Army Intelligence Analyst and was charged with the task to “find, know, and never lose the enemy.” I became obsessed with “the hunt” and wanted to know the “why” of everything. When SSG Textor died, I realized that for all of my efforts, knowledge, and ability I could not prevent God’s sovereign plan for that young man’s life.

War has a way of proving that we are not in control of anything. Listen again to the words of Nick Swarthout as he recounts one of the most sobering events of his life: “While sleeping on the second floor of one of Saddam’s Mother in Law’s mansions, a rocket landed in the front yard. Never in my life have I experienced such a feeling of hopelessness and insecurity. There I lay in my boxers, all of my equipment and weapons down stairs, its 6:00 in the morning, and I am tucked safely in a bed completely surrounded by ¾ inch ply wood walls as the only thing that stood between me and the corridor of glass windows in front of me. All I could think about was how much closer to me than the front yard are the other 36 rockets going to land? And which one is going to be the one to land in my ready-made coffin of a bedroom? Fortunately, that rocket was flying solo into our front yard that morning, and again, by the grace of God, I am here to type these stories for you.”

Dr. Jeff Newman of Faith Baptist Bible College once stated “there are no accidental moments.” Nothing in our life happens by accident. God has a plan for our lives and He is working all things for our good. It was not by accident that SSG Textor died and my friend, Nick, survived. In both cases, God was glorified. Therefore, I don’t have to understand why. I simply have to trust in the sovereignty of my God. The Bible states in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” As humans, there are some things that you and I just can’t do, know, or prevent. The Iraq War solidified this fact for me and caused me to run to God in times of my fear, doubt, and discouragement.

King David was one of the greatest warriors to ever live. There were many times when David found himself discouraged and alone in the midst of battle. But what did David do? The Bible states in 1 Samuel 30:6b, “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” David did this in the midst of being pursued by Saul, being rejected by the Philistines, and being ready to be stoned by his own men who blamed him for their wives being captured by the Amalekites! But David did not lose heart, he “strengthened [encouraged] himself in the LORD his God.” David also reminds us in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You…I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”

God is able to use all of the events in our lives to bring us into a new a better relationship with Himself. God used the Iraq War in my life to show me His sovereignty. My life is to be lived for Him, because He, alone, is God, and I am not. Nick Swarthout states it best when he said, “I have been shot at, scared, bombed, terrified, intimidated, stressed, lonely, and anxious, depressed, blown up, attacked, and broken down, all of which have led me to my life’s purpose that I have found in Him, to bring Him honor, glory, and praise through my worship to Him and my service for Him and His people.” The life we live is all about Him! He alone is worthy of honor, glory, and praise! Why? Answer: Because God is sovereign, and we are not.

The Iraq War strengthened my faith by allowing me to learn that life is short and should be lived for the glory of God and the good of others. Also, I learned that God does exactly what He wants…He is absolutely sovereign. President George W. Bush, who was my Commander-in-Chief, once wrote in his autobiography, Decision Points: “There are things we got wrong in Iraq, but that cause [giving 25 million Iraqis freedom] is eternally right.” As for me, there were things I got wrong in my participation in the Iraq War; however, by the grace of God, I am here today, and have learned some valuable lessons that I will never forget.