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Lord Jesus Christ,

We are so thankful that you have said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

We are thankful for the ease with which you walked upon this earth, the generosity and kindness you showed to people, the devotion with which you cared for those who were out of the way and in trouble, the extent to which you even loved your enemies and laid down your life for them.

We are so thankful to believe that this is a life for us, a life without lack; a life of sufficiency. It’s so clear in you, the sufficiency of your Father and the fullness of life that was poured through you, and we’re so thankful that you have promised the same love, the same life, the same joy, and the same power for us.

Lord, slip up on us today. Get past our defenses, our worries, our concerns. Gently open our souls and speak your word into them. We believe you want to do it, and we wait for you to do it now.

In your name, Amen

Categories : Prayer
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Mar
21

Words on Worry

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“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

Worry is the anxiety we feel that is fostered by uncertainty regarding the future. Jesus spoke these words in the middle of The Sermon on the Mount, giving six reasons why we are not to worry.

Do not worry because you are valuable to God! “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

Worry does not change anything! “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)

God regularly demonstrates his faithfulness to his children! “Andy why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)

Worry produces conflict with our faith and trust in God! “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

God already knows your needs! “…and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:32)

Our priority is to focus on God’s kingdom and trust his promises to care for us! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

Jesus offered those words nearly 2,000 years ago. And they are just as relevant today!

Be blessed today,

Pastor Tim

Categories : Worry
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Mar
13

Our Response to COVID-19

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Dear First Baptist Family and Friends,

As you know, this is the time of year when the spread of viruses represents a significant concern for many individuals and families in our community.  This year, in particular, these concerns have been increased given the rapid spread influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19 (coronavirus).
 
Out of our responsibility as Shepherds and leaders, and particularly in support of members of our community who would be most vulnerable to these conditions, our Church Staff and Executive Board are implementing the following preventative measures to do our part to ensure as safe an environment for church members as possible:

We are encouraging everyone to please stay home if you are showing any signs of illness.  Remember that you can live stream our services at our website (www.fbcdsm.org/media) or watch them at your convenience. If you cannot attend worship, you can also make contributions online (www.fbcdsm.org/ways-to-give.aspx).

During worship we are encouraging the alternative form of greeting one another by placing your hand over your heart as a sign of Christian love. In similar manner, greeters will now wave to everyone rather than shaking hands or hugging.

We are suspending communion through the month of April. We will also suspend providing donut holes before and after worship through the month of April. Coffee will continue to be provided on Sunday morning by servers.

Any food, including Wednesday night dinners, will be plated and served individually by people wearing food service gloves.

Those who have volunteered to make hospital visits will suspend their ministry. The Pastoral Staff will continue to provide pastoral care to those who are admitted to the hospital as permitted.

Frequent hand washing with soap and water is encouraged! Hand sanitizer is available in each class room as well as in the Narthex.

Please make sure to cough or sneeze into your elbow, turning away from others as much as possible. Kleenex tissues are available throughout the building.

In addition to our regular cleaning, we will be regularly cleaning and disinfecting all doorknobs, handles, and frequently used surfaces at the Church.

Parents: please remember that we always regularly wipe down all toys in the nursery.

We appreciate your willingness to work together to promote the health and well-being of our entire community.  We will continue to monitor the latest recommendations from governmental agencies and hope that these measures will soon be unnecessary. You can find the latest information at The Iowa Department of Public Health website (www.idph.iowa.gov) or the National Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov).

To that end, let us be faithful and vigilant in our prayer for those nations, communities, families and individuals most affected by this outbreak, and for the medical personnel and government officials seeking to respond. Finally, let us show respect to those who are deeply concerned about these viruses and resist any temptation to invalidate their concerns or personal precautions.
 
God’s blessings to you all,      
The Church Staff and Executive Board of First Baptist Church
Categories : Uncategorized
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Mar
12

Working Sacramental Miracles

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“The Kingdom of God deals not only with the immortal soul of mortals, but with their bodies, their nourishment, their homes, their cleanliness, and it makes those who serve these fundamental needs of life veritable ministers of God. Are they not serving the common good? Are they not working sacramental miracles by cooperating with that mysterious power which satisfies the want of every living thing by making the grain and tree to grow? If they do their job well, that job itself is their chief ministry to others and part of their worship to God. Whenever they strive to increase their serviceableness to humanity, they make another advance toward the Kingdom of God.”

“We praise thee, O God, for our friends, the doctors and nurses who seek the healing of our bodies. We bless thee for their gentleness and patience, for their knowledge and skill. Make thou our doctors the prophets and soldiers of thy kingdom, which is the reign of cleanliness and self-restraint and the dominion of health and joyous life. Strengthen in their whole profession the consciousness that their calling is holy and they they, too, are disciples of the saving Christ. Amen.” — Walter Rauschenbusch, as quoted by Dennis L. Johnson, To Live in God.

Categories : Uncategorized
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Nov
29

Wave Upon Wave — John 1:16

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From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another” (John 1:16, NLT)

Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for us to consider the blessings of God that we might ordinarily overlook. When given the opportunity to take inventory, we quickly realize that we are amazed at how much we have received from God, so much in fact, that it makes our burdens and challenges pale in comparison.

In his epic introduction, the Apostle John presents his theology of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This year, the sixteenth verse became the basis of last week’s sermon. The word picture that John offers is one of waves that come crashing into the seashore. If you’ve been to the ocean, you know that ocean waves come continuously without pause. They don’t stop. Ever. And that image is how John wants us to think of the gracious blessings of God.

These continuous blessings contain invitations for us to respond. Each blessing is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and respond to God with praise, thanksgiving, and love. The key is how we respond. In the narrative of our Lord, we see three responses to his blessings.

Some are receptive, such as the woman in Mark 14:1-9, who anointed Jesus prior to his crucifixion by breaking an alabaster jar of expensive perfume. The text reports that it was a magnanimous offering worth one year’s wages. While there is some debate regarding the identity of the woman, it appears clear that she had experienced forgiveness for what many may have considered unforgivable. She responded to Jesus grace with confession and contrition which resulted in transformation. Grace changes lives.

Others, on the other hand, are resistant. Three of the four gospels record a story of a wealthy young man who approached Jesus one day inquiring what must be done to receive eternal life. Jesus, in response to the “rich young ruler” cited commandments 5-10. The young man said, “check! What remains?” Jesus said that he needed to sell everything and follow him. The young man, torn between two interests, went away sorrowful. The idolatrous grip of money was overwhelming. It is apparent that he wanted to add Jesus to his divided heart. Grace doesn’t work that way. So he walked.

While some are receptive and others are resistant, there is a third type — those who actually resent grace. John 6 is devoted to the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Free bread and fish was more than enough reason for Jesus’ audience to drop everything to “follow” him. Jesus recognized their shallow pursuits, stopped, and said, “Unless you eat my bread and drink my blood, you cannot be my disciple.” They were offended by Jesus’ words and followed him no more. They were interested in bread, but not the bread of life.

God’s waves of grace, the bread of life, is what we’re offered. And its beneficial. But we have to respond. May we continue to be receptive to the waves of God’s grace, and allow him to continue his work of transformation in our lives!

Categories : Thanksgiving
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Oct
02

Your Table is Ready

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I like to try new restaurants, but I’m challenged with a problem you may find relatable. I have chronic order envy. If you’re not familiar with order envy, its basically evaluating my order against the orders made by others in my dinner party and comparing mine to theirs. It seems that I usually wish I had ordered what someone else ordered.

Psalm 23:4 makes a shift in location. The Psalmist transitions from being out of doors…green pastures…still waters…a valley of shadows…to indoors. In Bible times, people only ate with trusted friends and family. The table was reserved for the closest, most trusted relationships. But in Psalm 23, this table is set in the presence of enemies. It sounds strange to us, but it was even more strange to David’s original audience.

But King David was not the only one who experienced this phenomenon. Hundreds of years later, Jesus found himself in a similar position at the last supper. John 13:1ff tells the story of Jesus inviting the disciples to “table” to observe the Passover in preparation for the crucifixion that would happen the following day. Who are his guests?

One of the guests was Peter, who denied him later that night. Another was Judas Iscariot who had already planned the insidious act of betrayal of Christ.

Yet Jesus was resolved to behave with radical inclusivity as a means of introducing the Kingdom of God. He humbly served those at the table, Peter and Judas included, by washing their feet. He behaved with a redemptive spirit as he offered Judas the “sop” as an act of honor and an invitation to friendship. Then he relinquished control as he watched Judas exit the dinner to carry out his plan.

Paul does not directly cite this event in Romans 12:17-21, but I think it must have been on his mind. He counseled the Roman readers to do the right thing by overcoming evil with good and then leave their enemies in hands of God. The behavior of those who wish me harm is not my problem. The behavior of those who attempt to do wrong does not make me exempt from doing the right thing. That’s hard, but Jesus did it. And he expects me to do the same.

Categories : Fear
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Sep
26

Block and Tackle

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Football season is in full swing. For many, its the most wonderful time of the year. I remember when my son started playing tackle football. One of the key components of practice was The Oklahoma Drill. Football fans and former players alike know the Oklahoma Drill as a measurement of strength on strength. Two players are lined up across from each other like gladiators and compete against each other. The drill reinforces the fundamentals of the game of football. Blocking and tackling. As the television analysts like to say, “the game is won or lost in the trenches.”

Old Testament shepherds were also concerned with the basic fundamentals of caring for the sheep. Psalm 23:4 reminds us that “Your and and your staff protect and comfort me.” Shepherds were equipped with these two devices. The rod was a short stick that may have resembled a billy club. Legend has it that young shepherds had to cut a sapling and then carve their own rod, making it a custom piece that fit his hand. The rod could be used to club an animal that threatened the sheep. It could also be thrown with deadly accuracy. The purpose of the rod was for protection.

The other piece of equipment was the staff. We have envisioned the staff as a long stick with a crook at the top. The staff was used by the shepherd to guide the sheep and keep them on the proper course. The purpose of the staff, therefore, was to provide guidance.

Looking at Psalm 23:4 as a unit of thought, we learn that God’s presence, protection and guidance all go together. The protection and guidance of God is based on relationship more that responsibility. Meaning, the closer we draw to God, the more we experience his presence. And the God who is present in our lives is armed and equipped to guide us brings comfort to our souls in the midst of all fears.

Categories : Fear
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Sep
23

Reframing the Narrative

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Paul not only found joy in his relationships, Philippians 1:20-30 also informs us that Paul was able to find joy through the acceptance of his circumstances. He was in prison. He wasn’t in denial of this adversity. Rather, he chose to reframe the physical realm into the spiritual realm. How did he do that, and what can we learn?

The first thing Paul offered was a humble view of reality. (Philippians 1:19-20) He maintained confidence that he would be delivered, although he was not certain what form that deliverance would take. Would deliverance mean that he would be released from prison? Or would he be executed? He acknowledged the reality of death, and his only desire was that if execution was in his future that he would not recant his faith.

Second, Paul possessed a clear priority. (Philippians 1:21) He never lost sight of Christ as his ultimate goal and priority in living. The word “gain is a financial term, meaning dividend. He understood that whatever happened to him, his investment would pay a rich reward!

Next, Paul’s attitude was positive. He was able to view his challenge as a “win-win.” (Philippians 1:22-26) The word “desire” is used 31 times in the New Testament and is usually associated with strong, sexual lust. Paul’s positive outlook saw the benefits of heaven, and on the other hand the benefit of others faith and growth should he be released. Interestingly enough, he’s good either way.

Finally, Paul maintained a healthy self identity. (Philippians 1:27-30) He could have worn the label “inmate,” but instead chose a healthy self identity. He was and continued to be a child of God, and would never accept anything less. He was not focused on who he was, but on whose he was.

What is the narrative you’ve chosen about your adversity? Like Paul, let joy reframe the narrative until the unseen becomes as clear as what is seen.

Categories : Joy
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Sep
22

Live Stream @ FBCDSM

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For the past year, the Tech Team at First Baptist Church has been working to develop a live video stream of our Sunday Morning Worship services. Through the dedicated work of these talented members, we are up and running!

The full worship service streams live each week beginning at 10:00 am. Following the live stream, the sermon videos are archived on our website to allow people to watch them at their convenience. The production quality is in high definition, making the viewing experience comfortable and enjoyable.

We made this investment for several reasons. First, we wanted our services to be accessible to people who cannot be present with us in person. From people who are traveling to those who are home bound, we have discovered that the live stream provides the viewer with a sense of community, albeit virtual. Another reason we made this step was to provide people who are exploring faith or looking for a church home a safe and anonymous experience prior to taking the step to worship with us in person. Finally, we wanted to provide support to small communities of faith that are either without a pastor or who can no longer afford a pastor. As we move forward, I’m sure there will be many other reasons that we’ll discover.

I’d like to invite you to check it out. You can find the live stream, the archived video, and yes, even the archived audio only sermons at www.fbcdsm.org/media. There you will find the links and clear instructions on how to engage.

My prayer is that God will use our new ministry for his Glory. And, we’re thankful to Him for the technology that makes it possible!

Categories : Sermons, Worship
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Sep
05

Forgiving Versus Excusing

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This was the August 29 daily reading from A Year With C.S. Lewis. It was originally published in his book The Weight of Glory.

“I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch my self very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ But excusing says, ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.’ If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man, or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven.

But the trouble is that what we call ‘asking forgiveness’ very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses.

What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some extenuating circumstances. We are so very anxious to point those out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.”

Categories : Forgiveness
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