VBS 2019: “In The Wild” Was Wild

VBS 2019 #3

Hello, friends! Just a quick blog post to say that VBS 2019 is officially in the books. We had a great week with nearly 45-50 kids every night. Songs were sung, crafts were done, games were played, and (of course) lessons on Jesus were taught. The kids eagerly participated in all of our nightly activities and had a wonderful time. A BIG “thank you” goes to each person who took their time to pour into our kids out here on the prairie. But a SPECIAL “thank you” goes to Kendra Gingerich and her crew for decorating, Nancy Wilson and Jesse Neitzel for coordinating the snacks, Aline Schipper for designing and putting together the cute safari vests, and Jess Caster and her crew for the hilarious and well-done skits! Everyone really pulled together and passionately gave it their all during the week; and, in the end, the kids had a great time, Jesus was praised, and God got a lot of glory. VBS 2019: “In The Wild” was wild! Can’t wait till next year!

Five Seriously Serious Stormy Statements…

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Last Sunday, we looked at a most spectacular account – Jesus calming a huge storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 8:23-27). In Mark’s parallel account (Mark 4:35-41), we read that Jesus calmed this storm with just three words, “Peace! Be still!” So many things could be said about this powerful account, but let me just offer five applicational thoughts from this demonstration of Jesus’s power and authority. Four will sound familiar as I mentioned these items in last Sunday’s sermon; and the fifth thought is an addition, but a needed addition. Check out these five seriously serious stormy statements (try saying that five times faster)…

  1. Storms in life sometimes happen BECAUSE you are following Jesus. Think about it. Who commanded and led the disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee? You betcha. It was Jesus who commanded and led His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee and subsequently led them right into the middle of a fierce storm. All of us must learn to decipher the difference between storms brought about because of our sin (storms of punishment), storms brought about because of Satan (storms of persecution), and storms brought about because of the Savior (storms of pruning). Bottom line, not all storms are because of your sin or Satan. Some storms in life happen precisely BECAUSE you are following Jesus.
  2. Storms in life sometimes happen out of nowhere – they’re unpredictable. Again, think about it. The disciples in Matt. 8:23-27 were totally not expecting a storm. It hit them, seemingly, out of nowhere! Because of how sudden and fierce the storm was, they were filled with great fear and even accused Jesus of not caring. Are you facing a storm right now? Did it seemingly come out of nowhere? Often this is how storms work. You are moving through life (work, vacation, school, family) and BAM you are hit with an incredible, overwhelming storm. Bottom line, the only expected thing about the storms of life is that they are often unexpected – they’re unpredictable. So, here’s some pastoral encouragement: Don’t live your life as if storms aren’t allowed to enter it. Storms happen.
  3. Storms in life is NOT an indication that God hates you or is unnecessarily messing with you. This is what the disciples momentarily thought as they shouted at Jesus through the roar of the storm, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!” Please hear me, God is not some cruel puppet master in the sky who finds joy in your pain and suffering. God is good, kind, and loving even when we’re in pain…pain that He Himself puts us through. How can this be? Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? But let me just offer this thought. Do you know how muscles grow? I suppose there are many right answers, but let me simply state it with this…”time under tension.” That’s right, you have to put your muscles through tension for a set period of time. The longer the tension, the greater impact you’ll receive with muscle growth and development. Perhaps God is putting you through a storm, not because He hates you or is messing with you, but to grow and develop your faith as He puts you in some “time under tension.”
  4. Storms in life give to you an opportunity to practice one of three kinds of faith: No faith, little faith, or great faith. Just before Jesus calmed the storm at sea, what did He do? Yeah, He rebuked His disciples for their “little faith.” Now, just hours before, Jesus had been wowed by a Roman Centurion’s “great faith.” So, in the words of Pastor Tim O’Tool, “How will Jesus marvel at your faith?” Will He marvel at how small it is or how great it is? Bottom line, all storms in life give to us a prime opportunity to exercise one of three kinds of faith: No faith, little faith, or great faith.
  5. Storms in life do NOT last forever. Praise the Lord for seasons in life! Darkness gives way to light. Hurt gives way to healing. Storms give way to calm. Hear me…the intensity of your storm right now might be fierce, and you may feel like you’re not going to make it, but storms do not last forever. Indeed, the One who put you into the storm has the power to still the storm – the one raging outside of you and the one raging inside of you.

As we close out this blog post, check out this song from the band, Skillet. It’s entitled, “Anchor.”

From the Desk of the Associate Pastor: What Am I Here For?

 

What Am I Here For?

This is a question I’m sure we have all asked ourselves. What is my purpose? Why do I exist? This question can come in many forms and if you polled a hundred people you would probably get that many different answers. While its in our nature to seek purpose in this life I believe that most everybody comes to the wrong conclusion because they start from the wrong starting point.

For Christians this should not be the case. We have a direct message from our Creator with the answer to the question “what was I made for?” The answer comes in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible. Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Now most of you have probably been taught that being made in the image of God means that we bear some likeness to Him in emotion, will, and intellect. While the image of God certainly includes these attributes, I believe we miss some of the most important aspects God is communicating to us when He says we are “made in His image.”

To be made in the image of God means that we are to spread His image throughout the whole earth. To put it another way we are imagers. God’s original intent for mankind was that we would improve His creation. Now you might be saying “God said His creation was very good!” That is just it. He said “Very Good,” not complete. We know this because just one verse later in Genesis 1:28-30 God says that man should subdue the earth and have dominion over it. He also said He gave them every plant with it’s seed to aid in this work. In short mankind was to spread Eden over the whole world. We were to spread God’s image by multiplying ourselves and using our creative abilities that God equipped us with to improve  and subdue the earth.

Now when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden that did not nullify our mandate to fill the whole earth with God’s image. It would however become much more difficult and indeed impossible to accomplish this task. We observe that in the pronouncement of the curse on mankind. This curse included thorns and thistles as well as pain in childbirth. Where as before creation cooperated with the mandate for man to subdue and have dominion over the earth, now creation would oppose us. We see that we have been successful in many ways in that mandate as mankind has achieved amazing things in construction, technology, and farming. With all our successes though we see much more evil that has been done by us to one another and to the earth. The marring of God’s image in us makes everything we do tainted by evil.

This is why we need a Savior. All the greatest achievements by man will always be tainted by our sin. That is why God knew He would need to come and achieve this mandate. To do so He became a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He came and fulfilled the law completely, had full dominion over nature but died in our place. He did not stay dead as He also has dominion over death itself. He rose from the dead and defeated the curse that mankind had brought on this world.

Now we too can have that curse defeated if we are in Christ. That is if we confess our sins and believe in Him as the only Son of God who was crucified for our sins and raised to life. Jesus has given His followers a renewed mandate. We are to fill the whole earth with His image, or put another way, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” Christians get to be a part of fulfilling the original creation mandate and the reversal of the curse that we brought to this planet. The only way to fully restore God’s image is to make disciples who are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Be Hopeful: The Church Does Not Rise Or Fall On Christian Celebrity By Mike Hess

Joshua Harris

Alexander and Hymenaeus are not the most famous characters in the New Testament. Most would probably have a difficult time identifying who these men were and why they were mentioned in one of the apostle Paul’s epistles—these were men who made “shipwreck” of their faith (1 Tim. 1:19–20). Paul used them to illustrate the contrast between those who keep the faith with a good conscience and those who abandon the faith. Yet during this time when a few were apostatizing, the gospel was nevertheless spreading, countless multitudes were being saved, and churches were being planted at an incredible rate. So we shouldn’t be too quick to write off the church. God is faithful, and He will accomplish His purposes despite the unfaithfulness of some.

We all grieve over the tragic news of former megachurch pastor and bestselling author Joshua Harris’s announcements of separating from his wife and a week later publicly proclaiming that he’s “not a Christian.” Not only that, he went so far as to apologize for at one time standing for the Biblical teaching on sexual ethics. This recent “fall from grace” has brought to mind Biblical names such as Alexander the Coppersmith, Hymenaeus, and Demas.

Joshua Harris is a human being who is created in the image of God. He’s also the father of three beautiful children. He is obviously in a terrible place spiritually and in great need of prayer. Undoubtedly many in his former church and circle of influence are grieving right now. What happened to him could happen to any of us (1 Cor. 10:12–13). It’s important that as we consider these things, we keep our language from becoming quarrelsome, slanderous, demeaning, or unbecoming of a follower of Christ. This is especially important with respect to what we post on social media. Yes, let’s be bold and truthful. But at the same time, let’s say what we mean without being mean in how we say it (Col. 4:6).

But we also need to be cautious about embracing a “sky is falling” mentality. Thankfully, the church’s foundation does not depend on the performance of prominent Christian celebrities. Even when a well-known pastor and author publicly announces his divorce and denial of the faith, the church still marches on for God’s glory. Many who mock the gospel will gloat about this public denial of the faith. That’s tragic, but it isn’t fatal to the church’s future. I believe we should be more optimistic than ever about the future of the church—not because of the celebrities it often elevates, but because of the Christ Who is the rock and the head of the church.

Consider how God has used His church over the past week. All around the world faithful pastors have stood and unashamedly proclaimed the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faithful servants have sacrificially served children in churches during Vacation Bible School. Others have patiently listened and prayed with those going through unspeakable suffering and pain. Neighbors have been invited into homes where the love of Christ has been exemplified by Christians demonstrating generous hospitality. Orphans have been adopted. Loving and restorative church discipline has resulted in sweet repentance and reconciliation. Local churches have sent out teams on short-term missions trips around the world. New hope has been injected into struggling marriages through compassionate Biblical counseling that seeks to help instead of harshly condemn. Prodigals have come home. New believers have made their faith public and identified with the gospel in believer’s baptism. And perhaps most importantly, many have come to saving faith in Christ.

While we rejoice in all these things, we must keep this firmly in mind: without faithful Biblical doctrine, we can’t have any of it. When someone denies the faith, that person is denying hope—the hope that transforms someone from the inside out. After all, if Christ is not actually risen from the dead, we should be “pitied more than anyone” (1 Cor. 15:19, CSB).

The best way to protect our hearts and ensure the fruitfulness of our churches is by guarding our doctrine. There’s far more at stake here than just having a well-written and cogent doctrinal statement; the meaningfulness of our lives today and our destinies for all eternity hinge on whether we take God at His Word. I’m both humbled and grateful to be a part of a fellowship of churches that for nearly 90 years has never wavered doctrinally. I don’t say that to boast or to brag—God receives all the glory for this. But it’s that sound doctrine that will protect your spiritual life and the life of your local church. That’s why it’s so important for churches to connect with other doctrinally aligned churches. On both a personal and corporate level, you are never better off going it alone.

In the meantime, let’s not forget while hearing the heartbreaking accounts of spiritually shipwrecked Christians that there are multitudes of faithful Christian brethren all around the world still persevering in their faith and staying true to the gospel, sometimes even under intense persecution.

Let’s cheer each other on to cross the finish line strong!

Reblogged with permission from the author, Mike Hess, who serves as National Representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.

PFBC: August’s Upcoming Events…

August

The summer is just zipping by and August is nearly here! Below you’ll find all the events and activities that are projected to take place out here on the prairie. Please keep these things in mind and in prayer…

Saturday, Aug. 3 – Friday, Aug. 9 = Family Camp 4 at IRBC (Pastor Dave is Program Chairman For This Camp Week)

Sunday, Aug. 4 = PFBC Associate Pastor, Tim O’Tool, Preaching at 10:15 AM

Wednesday, Aug. 7 = Summer Night of Prayer at 6 PM

Saturday, Aug. 10 – Friday, Aug. 16 = Family Camp 5 at IRBC (Pastor Tim Attending)

Monday, Aug. 12 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM (Prayer Focused on VBS)

Tuesday, Aug. 13 = Men’s Prayer Group from 6:30 – 7:30 AM (Prayer Focused on VBS)

Saturday, Aug. 17 = VBS Volunteer Training Night from 6 – 7 PM

Sunday, Aug. 18 – Wednesday, Aug. 21 = VBS 2019 from 6 – 8 PM Each Night!

Friday, Aug. 23 – Saturday, Aug. 24 = Men’s Revive at IRBC

Saturday, Aug. 24 = Liz Yoder’s Bridal Shower at Cheryl Bohn’s Home at 10 AM

Sunday, Aug. 25 = Youth/Parent Fall Kick-Off Event (TBD) Leadership Team Meeting (TBD)

Wednesday, Aug. 28 = Youth Group from 6 – 8 PM

Friday, Aug. 30 = Special Youth Event (TBD)

Saturday, Aug. 31 = Indoor Church Work Day (TBD)

Men’s Revive 2019!

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Prairie Flower Men, are you getting excited for this year’s Men’s Revive (formerly, Men’s Retreat) at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp? This year’s event will be done on the weekend of Aug. 23-24. A sign-up sheet for this weekend is located on the bulletin board in the church foyer. For more information, please see the letter below that I wrote as the Retreat Liaison for our State Fellowship…


Men,

In just a few short weeks, we will all converge on the beautiful campground of Iowa Regular Baptist Camp for Men’s Revive (formerly, Men’s Retreat). Ultimately, the purpose of Men’s Revive is to give the men of the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches (IARBC) an opportunity to “revive their passion for God to revitalize their local churches.” This is accomplished through much-needed time away with other brothers in Christ, solid preaching, good food, and a great camping atmosphere. Indeed, we are praying for you as this year’s event approaches. 

Men’s Revive is slotted for Friday, August 23 – Saturday, August 24. Our speaker this year is Mike Hess, the new National Representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). He will be speaking to us on the topic of “Church Revitalization.” Mike will be tackling subjects, such as: The Word Revitalizes, Why Revitalization Matters, and The Workers of Revitalization. As many of you know, Mike is an excellent communicator and will challenge and motivate us through the Word.

Another exciting feature of this year’s Men’s Revive is the introduction of select workshops on both Friday and Saturday. Tim Capon, our IARBC State Representative, will host a workshop on Friday on the topic of evangelism. Then on Saturday, Dr. Dean Taylor (from the faculty of Faith Baptist Bible College) will host a workshop for pastors entitled, “What is a Healthy Pastor?” For our laymen, a Saturday workshop will be hosted by Pastor Stephen Moore entitled, “What is a Healthy Church Member?” These workshops are optional, but it’s our hope that many of you will plan to attend at least one of these sessions.

As this year’s Men’s Revive approaches, we hope that you’re planning to come. This year’s event is shaping up to be truly exciting. Indeed, we hope that you’ll come and perhaps motivate a few men from your church or community to come along with you. Men’s Revive will be here before you know it, and we truly hope to see many of you there!

David Cotner on Behalf of the IARBC 

From The Associate Pastor’s Desk: How Do I Love The Unlovable?

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Have you ever struggled to love someone that you knew you should? Maybe it is a lazy coworker, or an obnoxious sibling, or a mean boss. We read of Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. We all know that there are people who we are called to serve and to love but sometimes it seems that the expectation is that we should be doing this naturally. When we do not feel this way it is easy to ask what is wrong with me? There is something wrong with us. We are naturally programed to love those who love us and to hate those who hate us. For the Christian this should not be so.

During my high school years, I was a homeschooled student who was duel-enrolled at the public high school. This allowed me to attend any classes I wanted to as well as compete in athletics. During my time playing basketball I had a particularly hard time fitting in. I could not understand this because I was an above average athlete. I assumed this would punch my ticket to acceptance if not popularity. I was wrong. There was a particular group of boys who made it their goal to make me feel like an outsider. I can say there was no love in me for these individuals. I knew that I should be trying to reach others with the gospel but I was so concerned with what people thought of me that I completely lost sight of that.

I think many of us have people in some if not all areas of our lives that for whatever reason we find difficult to love. This is where we need to understand that love is not a feeling but an act of obedience. We are sinful people who are prone to love people who love and add benefit to us, and to treat people who don’t with indifference or even animosity.

There were days during my time in school where I realized that even though I did not have a natural love within me for particular individuals, I was called to love them anyway. How is it possible to love someone you don’t feel like loving? It is possible because we love our Savior who loved us when we were unlovely and continues to love us even when we fail Him over and over. We can act in love toward someone out of obedience to the Savior. It follows this principle, “He who has been forgiven much loves much, but he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Now it isn’t as if Jesus was saying here that some believers didn’t need as much forgiveness as others. He is saying that those who truly recognize how much they have been forgiven will truly love the way we should. I believe that when we fail to love, we fail to recognize just how bad we were and even still are.

So, what is the point of all this? The point is, we can truly act in love toward people we find unlovely. Not out of a “faking it” love, but because we truly love our Savior for what He has done for us. It is at this point He will begin to change our hearts and we will be able to truly love those who are unlovable. Who is the person in your life that you are being called to act in love toward? You really can love that person if you recognize the love that God has first shown you.

Are You In Pain?

Mark Vroegop

Last week, Pastor Tim and I (along with our families) had the special privilege of attending the GARBC National Conference in Des Moines. The theme of this year’s conference was entitled, “The Essence of Worship.” It was a great theme with many great messages on the what, why, and how of proper worship. I am so glad that we were able to attend this conference.

However, of all the messages last week, one hit me in a unique way. It was given by our Keynote Speaker, Mark Vroegop. His message was entitled, “The Minor Key of Worship: Learning the Grace of Lament.” I have never cried so many tears during a message.

Are you in pain? Is someone close to you walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death? This message will immensely speak to and bless your heart. Take a listen at https://garbcconference.org/conference-news/the-minor-key-of-worship-2/.

PFBC: July’s Upcoming Events…

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July is nearly here! Below are the projected schedule of events taking place out here on the prairie…

Wednesday, July 3 = All Church Prayer and Fasting Day & Summer Night of Prayer at 6 PM

Thursday, July 4 = Independence Day!

Saturday, July 6 = Church Work Day from 8 – 10 AM

Sunday, July 7 = Communion, Food Fellowship, and Quarterly Meeting, Starting at 10:15 AM

Monday, July 8 = Women’s Prayer Group from 10 – 11 AM

Tuesday, July 9 = Donuts, Coffee, and Prayer from 6:30 – 7:30 AM

Wednesday, July 10 = Youth Group from 6 – 8 PM

Sunday, July 14 = Missionary Speaker, Louis O’Tool, Preaching at 10:15 AM

Monday, July 15 – Saturday, July 20 = Jr. High Camp at IRBC (Counselors = Pastor Tim and Jess Caster)

Thursday, July 18 = Eastern Iowa Biblical Counselor’s Coalition Meeting at 8:30 AM (Pastor Dave Attending)

Wednesday, July 24 = Youth Group from 6 – 8 PM

Friday, July 26 – Saturday, July 27 = Teen Boys’ Campout (More Details To Come!)

Sunday, July 28 = Leadership Team Meeting at 2 PM

Monday, July 29 – Saturday, August 3 = Sr. High Camp at IRBC (No Counselors Attending)

All Church Prayer and Fasting Day

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We are calling for an All Church Prayer and Fasting Day on Wednesday, July 3. Why? Because we should be practicing these spiritual disciplines, not just listening to preaching on these spiritual disciplines.

Here is the plan…10 days prior to our day of fasting, on Monday, June 24, please prepare yourself by reading “Prayer Changes Things” from Our Daily Bread (copies are located on the foyer table). From this booklet, you’ll read one devotional a day, for ten days, on the power of prayer. Then, from the time you wake up on Wednesday, July 3, until the time we meet that evening at 6 PM for our Summer Night of Prayer, fast and pray. We will break our fast by taking Communion together during our Summer Night of Prayer.

And what should you be praying for during our All Church Prayer and Fasting Day? Well, as hunger pangs erupt throughout your day of fasting, channel those pangs and pray/do the following:

  • Read one of the following Psalms and praise God for the attributes you encounter in the Scriptures (Psalm 3, 33, 63, 93, or 123).
  • Spend some time confessing your sins and shortcomings to God. Claim the promise of 1 John 1:9.
  • Write out every blessing in your life. Try to list 20 or more. Then thank God for those blessings.
  • Pray for your unsaved family members and friends.
  • Think through your family and business needs and pray over them.
  • Pray for our Missionaries. Ex. Joy Akkerman, the Galbraiths, the Kisarets, the Millers…
  • Google the names of our national and community leaders, pray for them by name.
  • Just for fun: pray for three of your closest friends and then text them to tell them you just prayed for them. It’s a blessing to be a blessing!

Won’t you join us for our church’s first All Church Prayer and Fasting Day? We are hoping that this day (and the ten days of preparation beforehand) blesses, encourages, and strengthens your faith. Please join us!