PFBC: December’s Upcoming Events…


Sunday, Dec. 1 = Portraits of Christmas Series Launch at 10:15 AM; Halcyon House Nursing Home Ministry at 2:30 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 4 = Kids4Truth (Jesus’ Birthday Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Sunday, Dec. 8 = Annual Election of Officers (After the Morning Worship Service)

Monday, Dec. 9 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, Dec. 10 = Men’s Prayer Group from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Wednesday, Dec. 11 = Kids4Truth (Store Night) and Outfitters at 6:30 PM; Prayer Meeting at 7:00 PM

Sunday, Dec. 15 = Leadership Team Meeting at 5 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 18 (Dec. 25, Jan. 1) = Christmas Break – No Activities!

Sunday, Dec. 22 = No Sunday School; Sunday Morning Worship Service at 10:15 AM

Tuesday, Dec. 24 = Christmas Eve Service at 6:30 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 25 – Saturday, Dec. 28 = Church Offices Closed For Christmas!

Guest Blogger: Phil Parsons – “Leave it All on the Court”


Phil Parsons and his family have recently started attending Prairie Flower Baptist Church. He is a member of the Board of Directors and President of Epaphroditus – a missions minded organization with a heart for the country of India. Phil is also an attorney here in southeast Iowa. We are pleased to have Phil be our Guest Blogger this week. In this particular blog post, Phil talks about the need for passion – “Leave it all on the court!” – when it comes to our Great Commission as disciples of Jesus Christ. ~Enjoy!

My oldest daughter, Alex, is currently playing basketball for Pekin Middle School. As a father who enjoyed basketball as a kid, it is simultaneously fun and frustrating to watch. It takes a great deal of self-control not to make a fool out of myself while watching and “encouraging” my daughter. My wife may argue that I fail at this more than I succeed.

One aspect of basketball that can be frustrating for parents, and coaches alike, is the absence of total commitment. Too often you see players merely go through the motions. To correct this halfhearted behavior, a coach my yell “Leave it all on the court!” The idea behind this phrase is that players should not hold anything back. They should use all their heart, mind, and strength to win the game; being willing to sprint back on defense, dive on the floor for loose balls, and mix it up in the paint…blood, sweat, and tears.

The reason behind this reckless behavior is the desire to accomplish the primary goal, to win the game. Interestingly, being a Christian is not terribly different.

When Christ came in the flesh, he came for one purpose, to save sinners. He didn’t come to go through motions. He didn’t come to build wealth. He didn’t come to climb the corporate ladder. He didn’t come to create a Pinterest life. Jesus took on flesh, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to achieve the goal of seeking and saving the lost. As disciples of Christ, our purpose is not different. You can see this in the calling of the first disciples.  In Luke 5:4-11 we read these words:

“[W]hen he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

In verse 10 we see Jesus tell his disciples that they will be catching men. This was their new purpose as followers of Jesus, to look out upon the sea of faces in this world and throw out the net of the Gospel and draw men to Jesus. Peter, James, and John are the first Christians, and in their calling, we are given the first example of what it means to follow Christ, to partner with Him to seek and save the lost.

But how do we do this? It begins with a commitment to leave everything on the court. Notice verse 11, “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Let that sink in…they left everything…everything; their boat, their source of income, their dreams, and even their dad. At this moment they were giving it their all, literally.

Now…it is time for some self-evaluation. How do you stack up? Do you view yourself as a Christian, as a disciple, as a follower of Christ? Has Jesus called you to be catchers of men? Have you accepted that call? Have you committed yourself to the primary mission of seeking and saving the lost? Have you given it your all? Have you left it all on the court? Or are you going through the motions?

Remember, when Christ calls you, it is not into passivity, but activity, and it is an activity of total abandonment. Later in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says these words, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).

Christ calls us to leave it all on the court, to give everything we have, blood, sweat, and tears to the God-glorifying, eternal, Gospel-centered mission of saving sinners.

From the Desk of the Associate Pastor: Deck the Halls?

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You have heard the debates right? The back and forth between when one can appropriately begin listening to Christmas music? For some not till November, others would say after Thanksgiving. Still others will take a more hard line stance of not till two weeks leading up to Christmas. And then there are those who secretly begin to listen in October or earlier. So, most would say that there really is no right answer, it’s just a preference thing, and maybe that is true, but I believe there are some helpful thoughts regarding this subject as we head into the holiday season.

I first want to make a very important distinction between music genres. In my definition Christmas music only includes songs that celebrate the advent of our Savior while Holiday music would encompass songs that celebrate the secular meaning of Christmas. If a song includes ideas about Santa, Reindeer, Snowmen, silver bells, or chestnuts it probably falls in the secular category.

Now is it wrong to listen to holiday music as a celebration of the warm and fuzzy and nostalgic feelings one gets as they think about this time of year? No, not really, but in my personal opinion, you should not be subjecting others to such music before the 10th of December. I say that half joking, but the reason I want to make such an important distinction between “Christmas” music and “Holiday” music is because this time of year holds such a special theological place in my heart. Now, as a disclaimer, I recognize that December was probably not the actual historical month that Christ was born, but it has become the accepted season to spend a focused time celebrating the birth of Christ.

Let us think for a minute about the ramifications of the birth of Christ. Mankind had rebelled and abandoned their Creator. Even those who were supposed to be the people of God had largely and repeatedly brushed any loyalty to the one true God aside. Yet over and over again God promised to send a Savior who would “crush the head of the serpent,” and would “sit on the throne of His father David,” and would be “God with us,” and so much more. Now the true followers of God had waited and waited for Him to fulfill all these promises. In the birth of Christ, and His subsequent work on the cross, we have all these promises fulfilled.

This is why we have such cause for celebration and it just seems we cannot adequately do this with just reindeer and sleigh bells. And in fact, I believe that in large part these cultural Christmas references largely distract from the true celebration of Christmas.

Brothers and sisters, it is not my attempt to infringe on your Christian liberty in denying you the fun of celebrating the secular aspects of the Christmas season, but please for the sake of your children and for the sake of a lost and dying world, do not allow these things to take away from the true celebration of God with us.

Even though God waited for centuries and millennia to fulfill the promise to send the Savior, He ultimately did so. As Paul wrote to the Galatians: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a virgin, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law.” The implications of this are huge to us. The fact that God fulfilled His promise to send the Messiah means we can trust Him that He will eventually, and in just the right time, fulfill every other promise that He has made to us. That is why I say listen to your Holiday music for a short time (if you must), but feel free to celebrate and rejoice with Christmas music whatever time of year the mood hits you.

Merry Christmas!

My Sixth Year As Pastor

My Sixth Year As Pastor

This Sunday, November 10, 2019, I will celebrate six years as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. Can you believe it? Six years have come and gone so incredibly fast.

This sixth year as a Minister of the Gospel has been a blur of activities from praying to preaching, soul-winning to soul-care, weddings to funerals, and from weeping to rejoicing. The full-orbed life of pastoring may be many things, but it’s certainly never boring. I know cops and doctors get all the TV shows for how fast-paced and exciting their work can be, but make no mistake about it, pastoring can be just as intense. Indeed, pastoring can be so incredibly intense at times because pastors work in the physical realm, but operate in the spiritual realm. Sound spooky? Make your brain hurt? Yeah, mine too.

Well, what have I learned this past year? How has God continued to mold and transform me? In life and ministry, there’s always lessons to be learned (and relearned), so here are three lessons that I am walking into my seventh year with…

  1. Stress – Like many of you, I have been in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That’s a difficult place to live. It’s hard to breath down there! And certainly there is great stress in this valley, but I have come to realize that even on the mountain peaks, there is stress. Examples: 1) A lost sinner places his faith in Jesus Christ. Celebrate? Yes! But then there is the difficult work of discipling this new believer in their faith. That produces some stress. 2) A baby is born into your family. Celebrate? Certainly! But then there is the difficult work of raising that sweet bundle of joy and literally providing for all their needs. That produces some stress. 3) A church begins a new building project. Celebrate? You bet! But then there is the difficult work of lining up contractors, volunteers, and getting the work done. That produces some stress. Get the picture? Stress in ministry isn’t simply regulated to the bad; even good things have stress points attached to them. So, at some level, I’m learning that even good things (and the stress that goes along with it) must be stewarded well.
  2. Opportunities – As we go through life, we will have many opportunities. I am personally so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been afforded. God has been so gracious to me. And, like many of you, when you start to take one opportunity after another, like dominoes, the opportunities to do this or that can become…well…overwhelming. There are so many good things to be a part of and do! So, which ones should you take? What is the difference between better and best? When is the best time to take on more responsibility? Should you downsize and restructure first? So many questions…But I think I’m learning that when new opportunities present themselves, no matter how good and intriguing they seem, I must ask many questions, consult my wife (that’s marriage 101), and (of course) pray like crazy.
  3. Pain – I don’t mean to sound nonchalant when I say this, but everyone has pain in their life, sometimes deep pain. I feel like everyone I meet these days has some trauma or great difficulty that they are facing or have faced in their past. This broken, sin-cursed world can be so miserable to live in sometimes. As a pastor, I am learning to “beware of the smile” that people present. Behind many of those smiles are hidden hurts, past abuse, and deep pains. Indeed, hospital elevators are fascinating places. As a pastor, I spend a lot of time on hospital elevators. In those elevators, you’ll meet all kinds of people: excited parents with a new-born baby, a grieving wife whose husband just died in surgery, concerned doctors and nurses with burdens so great (both personal and professional), frustrated patients with more questions than answers, and the list could go on, and on, and on. I am learning that everyone has pain in their lives. Some people’s pain is deeper and more complicated than others, but everyone has pain. What a joy to walk with people amid their pain while pointing them to Jesus, the Man of Pain (AKA: the “Man of Sorrows”), who is always there and always faithful.

Well, that’s a wrap. Year six is in the bag! What a joy to be one of the undershepherds here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. This past year has truly been a blur with many highs and a few lows, but God has been and will forever be faithful to His character, His promises, and to us – His people. I am looking forward, with serious joy, at this new year of pastoring to come. Please pray that God continues to give me the grace I need to pastor with a shepherd’s heart.