Remembering Your Baptism Helps You Fight Temptation!

This Sunday is Easter Sunday! Indeed, I’ll be preaching my 9th Easter message as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. It’s always such a joy to open God’s Word and to declare that we worship a crucified & RISEN Savior! Such a message never gets old. Indeed, how could it? It’s this very message preached and then believed that saves the souls of men and women. I can’t wait to preach it up once again this Sunday.

This Sunday is also Baptism Sunday! This Sunday, we’ll have the privilege of watching two very special young people take their next step of faith by being immersed in the waters of baptism. This too never gets old. How could it? Seeing people step from death to life and publicly declare their love and loyalty to Jesus Christ is such a beautiful and invigorating thing.

As I was preparing for Baptism Sunday, I came upon a familiar passage, but got some fresh insight from it. The familiar passage is from Romans 6:1-4, which starts off like this, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” Paul wants to demolish the ridiculous notion that Christians should allow themselves to sin in any way they want because “grace will simply cover it.” But here’s what struck me…Paul continues this line of thought about not sinning and not abusing the grace of God by giving to the Roman believers a reminder. He essentially says to them, “Choose not to sin! Choose not to abuse the grace of God!” HOW?! “Remember your baptism!” Yeah, listen to what Paul says next in Romans 6:1-4, “How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Wow. Do you see what the Apostle Paul did there? He essentially points the Roman believers back to their baptism and says, “Why would you go on sinning as a Christian? Remember your baptism! Remember that moment you publicly declared your love and loyalty for Jesus as you were dunked in the water!” Yes, Paul actually models for us a way to fight temptation by calling us to remember our baptism.

This line of reasoning is similar to what I would do with a married couple who is struggling in their marriage. Perhaps they’re just tired and want to divorce. Among many things, I would say to them, “Don’t divorce! Fight for your marriage!” HOW?! “Remember your vows!” Yes, I would point this married couple back to their wedding day and say, “Remember…” Perhaps remembering their special day, and the promises that they made to each other on that day, will give them the strength they need to fight for their marriage another day…In the same way, Paul encourages us to remember the day of our baptism, and the beauty of the Gospel message it portrays. Indeed, remembering our baptism gives to us another weapon in our arsenal to fight sinful temptation…Remember your baptism!

Quarterly Meeting Agenda Items (4-10-22)

Tomorrow (4-10-22), we will conduct our Quarterly Meeting. Below are the Agenda Items for this meeting…

  1. Call Meeting to Order – Pastor Dave
  2. Opening Prayer of Blessing – Pastor Tim
  3. Reading of Past Minutes – Lisa Van Der Molen
  4. Review of Financial Report – Steve Bohn
  5. Readjusting Our Missions Support – Congregational Vote
  6. Removal of Church Members – Congregational Vote
  7. The Lead Pastor’s Items – Pastor Dave
  8. The Associate Pastor’s Items – Pastor Tim w/South Africa Missions Team
  9. Missions Escrow Account Vote – Darwin Carroll (Congregational Vote)
  10. Closing Prayer of Blessing – Zach Shepherd
  11. The Motion to Adjourn – Pastor Dave

Feelings of Blah…

I don’t know about you, but this week has been a fight for joy. No, there’s not anything majorly bad going on in my life, but I feel just kind of blah…foggy…like I’m stuck in a funk of sorts, and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s the horrible weather that we’ve been having here in southeast Iowa or the incessant drumbeat of bad news online, but I’m just feeling kinda down. Ever been there? Do you know what I’m talking about?

I think it might have something to do with just the daily rhythms of life. We get stuck in stable rhythms that feel like ruts. And ruts are frustrating. Ruts are boring.

Yeah, that might be the issue right there. We just feel bored. We have plenty of things to do, but we’re just bored with it all. We crave something new…something exciting…something to make us feel alive again.

Perhaps our schedules have gotten cluttered with activities and responsibilities, and we just desire a hard reset…a do-over…a clean slate. We’ve said “yes” to so many good things that we’ve inadvertently said “no” to the best things.

I feel like I’m rambling, probably am, but that’s just kind of sorta where I am at the moment…I feel foggy, stuck in a rut, and I’m a little bored despite having a cramped schedule filled with things to do. I know that I can’t be alone in such feelings. You either have had such feelings in the past, are feeling them now, or (mark my words) you’ll feel them at some given point in the future…That’s just life on this side of Glory.

So, how do I counsel myself out of such mundane, blah feelings…Well, I do the following…Maybe you’ll find my approach helpful for yourself…

  1. I Preach To Myself – That’s right. I take the Word of God and read words like this from Psalm 42:5, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.” Feelings come and go. Indeed, feelings are funny, fickle, fleeting things, don’t trust them! Trust in God. Hope in Him.
  2. I Pray With Honesty – The Apostle Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Certainly, I could stew in my feelings of ick OR I could talk to God about how I feel. When I pray, I certainly ask him to take away the negative feelings, but, more than that, I thank Him for the opportunity to practice humility before Him despite how I feel. Listen, we all want to feel good, but sometimes God uses the nasty feelings of life to draw us into a newer and better relationship with Him. Remember Job in the Old Testament?
  3. I Post Things Online – Ha! Maybe not the best thing to do, but here I am honestly and transparently saying, “I feel kinda down today.” And you know what, that’s all right. The super critics out there will roll their eyes at this blog post. “Suck it up!”, they’ll say. “Count your blessings!”, they’ll shout. “And yes, I agree. I’m not going through anything severe or heartbreaking, and I have much to be thankful for. But writing for me is therapeutic. It gives me a good outlet to air out some thoughts…

So, there we have it. Do I feel better after all of that? Kind of. But I’m not looking for a quick fix to my feelings. God is good, loving, and wise despite my feelings of blah. So, I’ll choose to rest in Him.

Bible Project Video: Water of Life…

“In the beginning of the Bible, God transforms a desolate wilderness into a garden through a stream that waters the ground and brings life wherever it goes. This image gets developed throughout the biblical story as wells, cisterns, rain, and rivers all become images of God’s creative power. In this video, we’ll explore the ‘water of life’ theme through the biblical story and see how it leads to Jesus, who presents himself as the one bringing living water to a world that is desperately thirsty.”

Waiting On The Lord…

Waiting is hard. We want answers and results right away. Indeed, our culture of instant gratification is completely intolerant of long wait times. Whether we are waiting for a package to arrive or for some procedure to be done, we want it done, and done now. Waiting, for many of us, isn’t simply hard, it’s intolerable. We are anti-waiting.

Children are such excellent and dramatic illustrations of our anti-waiting natures. Ever witness a toddler throw a full-blown temper tantrum because they are told to wait on something that is literally coming their way in like five minutes? We smile and snicker at such things, but aren’t we the same way? Children (and all of us) don’t like to wait. I mean, let’s be honest, we hate to wait. And why do we loath waiting so much? Because we honestly believe that if a certain desire has hit us, it must be met with immediate satisfaction, or we won’t ever be truly happy, at peace, or free.

Then, like a flashing red light along our Christian pathway, we have these verses that pop up…

  • Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
  • Psalm 37:7-9 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.”
  • Psalm 130:5 – “I wait for the LORD, my souls waits, and in his word I hope.”

Over and over again, the Psalmist David reminds us to “wait for the LORD.” And let me tell you, David was extremely familiar with the waiting game. Remember how long it took him to be installed as King of Israel after he was anointed King of Israel? 15 years! Yes, it took God 15 years to finally and fully install David as King after God had already chosen and anointed him to be King. David had to wait on the Lord during this time period, a time period that involved him running for his life as King Saul tried to kill him over and over again, and he had to wait on God many times thereafter. With impeccable credibility, David tells you and me to “wait for the LORD.”

Friend, let me encourage you, whether you are waiting for an answer to prayer or waiting for God to give you clear direction concerning that big decision in front of you, wait on the Lord. Wait on God’s timing. Wait on God’s provision. Wait on God’s instructions. Rest assured, in the waiting, God is working. Yes, even if you can’t see it or feel it, God is working in your waiting. As you wait on the Lord, trust Him. As you wait on the Lord, worship Him. As you wait on the Lord, serve Him. He’ll come through, because His timing isn’t just better than yours, it’s perfect – completely and totally perfect.

Membership Sunday: The Vogels!

This Sunday, March 13, we will bring into membership Greg & Marsha Vogel! The Vogels have been attending our church for several years and are now making the plunge into full-blown church membership. We’re so excited to have Greg & Marsha as an official part of our church family! Below are their testimonies of salvation and baptism…

Greg Vogel’s Testimony of Salvation & Baptism…

Don’t always like to tell my testimony as it involves a girl, but not the girl I married…Not supposed to talk about other women you know…

I was not raised in a Christian/church going family. Not bad people, just had our own ways.

I never even went to a church until I was 19. The young lady I was seeing at that time was a believer. Probably the first Christian I had any real dealings with. After a few months of going to church with her and talking with people there, I was sitting in my room at home reading the Bible (and other papers about Jesus) and I decided that this was right. I prayed right there, just God and me, agreeing that His way was the right way, that I was a sinner, and I asked for His forgiveness and to show me the way to live.

For various reasons, I stopped dating that young lady but got in with some other believing friends at another church and was baptized there about 18 months later.

This life since has not always been what one would call an easy or straight path, have had my adventures, but through everything God is still God and Jesus is still risen from the grave. And that is reason enough to follow Him.

Marsha Vogel’s Testimony of Salvation & Baptism…

Growing up in a Christian home, we were at church any time the doors were open, and they were open a lot. We also did devotions every evening and/or morning. If Billy Graham was on TV, we were watching. It was after watching one of these crusades on TV, that I snuck out of bed and went out to my Mom and said I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. She made sure I understood what I was doing and helped me pray. Shortly after that I went through a membership class and was baptized, along with my older sister.

As we grew, we didn’t get to do many extra-curricular activities at school, but my dad made sure we were able to attend all the church activities, including summer camp and retreats. As we got older, we had to help earn these events, teaching us a good work ethic. As we didn’t move and attended the same church for 25 years, I was very comfortable and participated in most of the events/activities in the church.

We are on our 10th move since I married Greg. I love the fact that I have seen a lot of the country and met so many people. It has made it a bit harder to start to feel at home in a church though. We have tried to contribute of our time and talents wherever we are. We love the friendliness of Prairie Flower Baptist Church and their strong desire to spread the Gospel and preach the Bible. I look forward to growing and serving with you.

“They Found Hope”: An Article From Baptist Mid-Missions on John & Bev Leonard

More disabled people live in São Paulo than in any other city of Brazil. The reason is not surprising. This megacity of 22 million offers Brazil’s best healthcare, accessibility, and transportation—essential services for people managing conditions like paralysis, blindness, deafness, or mental disabilities. Families of disabled people move to São Paulo from all parts of Brazil for these burden-lifting services.

For the same reasons, missionaries John and Beverly Leonard uprooted themselves from northeast Brazil to São Paulo State in 2007. Two years earlier, on July 3, 2005, everything in their lives changed. John had finished preaching the evening service at the mission church he and Bev planted in Coqueiro Seco. In this drug-scarred community on Brazil’s coast, the Lord gave the Leonards marked success in leading addicts to salvation and to Christ-transformed lives. This didn’t escape the local drug lord’s attention. Threatened at his loss of territory, he sent assailants who waited outside the church. Their intention was murder, but instead their gunshot left John a quadriplegic.

Through tears, John and Bev knew that God makes no mistakes and that the only way to overcome evil is with good (Romans 12:21). From his hospital bed in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was flown, John sent a statement to the local newspaper in Brazil, declaring forgiveness for his attackers and concern for their souls. He also prayed each day that God would give him grace to not ask…

“Why?”

Spr22 TFH Bev Food Distribution

Instead, the question John and Bev focused on was “How?”

Deep down, they knew God had not released them from His call to Brazil, a call tracing back to John’s childhood as the son of Brazil missionaries Jerry and Frances Leonard. But how could they serve with this unexpected derailment of what they previously could do as missionaries?

After extensive physical therapy, the Leonards returned to Brazil in 2007, trusting God to show them what missions would now look like. They moved to São Paulo State, close to good medical care. Each day, Bev cared for John’s needs and loaded him into their adapted van. Although their work was now harder, they let God use them to help start four churches and to conduct ministry among Brazil’s Guarani Indians.

In 2020, with John facing increased health challenges, the Leonards moved from the outlying areas of São Paulo State into the city of São Paulo itself. In the late 1980s, BMM missionaries Marv and Diane Fray were the lead church-planting missionaries for Igreja Batista Esperança (Hope Baptist Church), located in the heart of São Paulo. This urban church seating 1,000 people has missions outreach in its DNA. The Frays’ burden was to reach ALL the lost souls of São Paulo, including those with special needs. A ministry to the disabled was initiated. This work has been organized and is currently under the direction of a Brazilian missionary, Lidia Costa. The Leonards had previously participated in the ministry from time to time. In 2020, John and Bev were invited to lead the ministry’s evangelism/outreach branch.

Esperança’s ministry to disabled people functions similarly to any other, with special get-togethers and outings to build relationships. The group has its own Sunday School, and those able to do so are invited to attend church services or join the church’s other Sunday School classes. Disabled believers go through discipleship classes to be baptized, and several made their public profession in last August’s baptismal service.

One of the group’s evangelistic outreaches is camp. In October 2021, 100 disabled people and their caregivers boarded São Paulo’s handicapped-accessible vans for a weekend retreat. Before the final message, the crowd chatted among themselves until John wheeled up to the front. The room became dead silent, and all eyes fixed on John. Here was someone just like them, and they hung on every word. Among the people making decisions afterward was a blind woman named Cintia, who received the Savior. Other group leaders were shocked. Formerly, she was antagonistic toward the gospel, but hearing it from someone who understood physical loss gave her hope that Jesus cared about her and that He could give her new life.

Spr22 TFH Cintia

The ministry had made initial contact with Cintia through food distributions during COVID-19 lockdowns. It was a particularly difficult time for disabled people, when São Paulo temporarily halted its accessible van transportation. During that year, Esperança’s ministry regularly distributed food to 250+ disabled people and their caregivers. During each package distribution, they prayed with the recipients and counseled them. Many new families began coming to evangelistic meetings held specifically for them. Several people received the Lord and are being discipled.

Bev has been surprised at the number of opportunities to pray with and counsel caregivers, some of whom have accepted Christ. One of these is Nena. She and her husband took in their niece, Nicole, after her mother (high on drugs) slammed her into the wall repeatedly and left her brain damaged and quadriplegic. After delivering food and medications to them last July, John and Bev shared the gospel, and Nena found eternal hope in Christ.

John lives with daily pain due to his neurological damage, but he made the decision long ago to forego pain meds. In the early days of his recovery, doctors prescribed narcotics that left him with a mind too foggy to think and, even worse, a difficult addiction to overcome. He often thinks about the addicts he worked with in Coqueiro Seco. Back then, John couldn’t fully understand what they were experiencing, but now he can say, “I’ve been there, and with the help of the Lord, I’ve overcome.”

When families of the disabled see John in his wheelchair and Bev with her caregiving challenges, the Leonards have a unique platform for the gospel that comes only through deeply identifying with people’s hurts: “We’ve been there – and are still there – and with the Lord as your Savior, He can help you overcome too.”

War in Ukraine…

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has got my American blood boiling. As an Army Veteran, I hate to see the advance of evil in our world. Indeed, I’m praying for the country of Ukraine, its’ political leaders, and military soldiers. Specifically, I’m praying that the Ukrainians would be brave as they attempt to beat back the thick darkness that has descended upon them from land, sea, and air.

As I think about the War in Ukraine, I am reminded of my time of service during the War in Iraq. I served in the U.S. Army as an Intel Analyst/Paratrooper from 2006-2010 and deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served as a Targeting Analyst during my first deployment and as a Political Analyst during my second deployment. Here are some basic lessons I learned during the War in Iraq that surely apply now to the War in Ukraine…

  1. Evil exists. So many of us are quick to reduce evil to a mere concept, but mark my words, evil has a face. There are evil people in this world, and they intentionally unleash evil deeds upon people and places. Evil people aren’t simply misunderstood or lacking in hugs, they are evil by choice. Evil people tenaciously seek to steal, kill, and destroy. Yes, evil exists.
  2. Good exists. Despite the advance of evil in our world, there is good in this world “and it’s worth fighting for.” Indeed, goodness has a face. There are good people in this world who are willing to hold the line and beat back the darkness. I had the privilege of serving with such people during the Iraq War. They come from all walks of life but are willing to stand up against tyranny and oppression. I thank God for such people.
  3. Life is fleeting. Here is the sad reality of the War in Ukraine: People will die. There is nothing that can prevent this sad reality. Both soldiers and civilians, adults and children, young and old, will perish in this war. Blood will be spilt. War is such a stark reminder that life is precious, but fleeting.
  4. Eternity is forever. All of the people who perish in this bloody conflict will be ushered into one of two eternities: Heaven or Hell…This is the ultimate binary reality of life. For those who perish inside of Jesus, they go to Heaven. For those who perish outside of Jesus, they go to Hell. This is why I left the Army to pursue pastoral ministry. People need to know, during wartime and peacetime, that this world is not all there is, there’s an eternity that awaits us. Are you prepared for eternity?

Pray for the country of Ukraine. Pray that Ukraine experiences victory over Russia. Pray that the Gospel advances despite evil…

My Wife’s Question…

As we sat at our little round table in the kitchen, sipping our morning coffee, my wife said to me, “So, I was reading in Leviticus 21 earlier this morning, and I have a question.” Leviticus 21? A question? I was intrigued. “What’s your question?”, I asked her excitedly. “Well, I was rather disturbed by God’s qualifications for the priesthood. He says that no one with a blemish or defect may officiate the offerings as a priest. I mean, didn’t God make these people with such defects (i.e., blind, lame, etc.), why would He make them this way and then disqualify them from the priesthood?” Wow! A deep question…And I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet!

So, we examined the text together. The Scripture text in question reads like so…

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the Lord who sanctifies them.’ So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.” – Leviticus 21:16-24

How should we take God’s prohibition against certain Levites with blemishes and mutations? A few thoughts surface in my mind, and I would like to present three of those thoughts in this blog post. In fact, I will unpack this prohibition using three lenses: the harsh lens of sovereignty, the gentle lens of grace, and the ultimate lens of holiness…

The Harsh Lens of Sovereignty – Simply put, God is sovereign. He is in perfect and loving control over all peoples, places, and procedures. If He says that a disfigured man is disqualified from certain priestly duties, then that’s the way it is. Psalm 115:3 is clear, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” Furthermore, the Apostle Paul, in unpacking God’s sovereignty in salvation, states in Romans 9:20-21, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Certainly, if God is sovereign over our salvation, He is sovereign over who will serve Him in certain roles and who will not serve Him in certain roles. So, why did God give a prohibition against certain disabled men serving in priestly roles? Well, simply put (and perhaps harshly stated), God is sovereign, and He does whatever He pleases.

The Gentle Lens of Grace – There’s another way to look at this Leviticus 21 prohibition and it’s through the gentle lens of grace. Yes, God sovereignly chose for some of these men to be born into a handicapped situation. So, He graciously limits them from certain activities. Think about it. How cruel would it be for God to allow a Levitical priest to be born blind and then require him to offer sacrifices for the people of Israel. How’s he going to see what he’s doing?! Or how mean would it be for God to sovereignly make a man lame and then require him to offer the daily sacrifices. How’s he going to get to the altar in his lame condition?! God sovereignly allowed these men to be born with, or develop through an accident, a defective condition, but in His grace He limited what they could do in serving Him in the tabernacle.

The Ultimate Lens of Holiness – Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Why did God set a boundary upon who could serve as priests and who could not? Because God is holy and He required pictures of holiness through animals and people of wholeness. No defective or spotted lamb could be offered as a sacrifice to God. Only the best lambs could be offered in sacrifice. Why? Because God is holy and He demanded pictures of holiness through animals of wholeness. In the same way, no defective or spotted man could serve as a priest. Only the best men of the tribe of Levi could serve in the priestly role. Why? Because God is holy and He demanded pictures of holiness through men of wholeness.

Man alive, my wife’s question was a good one. I trust my threefold answer was equally as good. Now, to finish my coffee!

2022 IARBC Annual Conference

We are excited to try something new for our IARBC Annual Conference.  We are headed to our camp at IRBC for three days of challenge and encouragement from the Word with our theme, As For Me and My House – Discipleship at Home.  

Pastor Samuel Choi and Dr. Kraig Keck are our keynote speakers for the conference. They both have a passion for the family and ministry.  

The conference has something for the whole family!  We have workshops planned for both men and women.  Faith Baptist Bible College Students will help with children & teen classes.  We will have great food and fellowship in The Cove and opportunity for activities in The ROCK and on the campground.  

There are affordable options to register and stay on the grounds or at area hotels.  

Plan on joining us!

Tim Capon
IARBC State Representative

Phil Betz
IRBC Director

Register Here: http://irbc.org/retreats-events/iarbc-annual-conference