Tuesday, March 24, 2015

THE POWER OF THE INVITATION

For years the most powerful invitation used to be the one offered at the end of a sermon. The invitation was to come forward during an altar call to make a profession of faith…to receive Christ as your Savior and Lord. We even called the music during that time “the invitation hymn”. It was one way the Holy Spirit of God used to woo and call people into His Kingdom. Blessed be the Name.

There is another invitation that the Holy Spirit uses. The Power of the Invitation can be seen when you and I invite our family, friends and acquaintances to join us and to be our guest. The invitation could be to visit your connection group; to go with your small group to a Riverdogs’ baseball game or to attend worship with you. There is power in an invitation. I believe I would be correct in saying the number one way that we see people come into the family of God is through invitation. It is friends inviting friends and family. Think about it: you invite them to worship where they will hear the Word of God, be loved on by the people of God, moved by music focused on God, in the presence of God, under the conviction and calling of the Holy Spirit of God. And it all starts with an invitation…”Would you be my guest this Sunday?”


INVITING IS A BIBLICAL IDEA

There are two or three places I look to for inspiration about using the invitation as a form of evangelism and discipleship. First, let’s look at Jesus. “Come and follow me” seems to have been a favored way of reaching people. He invited and then they made the choice. Not everyone he invited followed but many did. Second, others invited friends and family to come and join them as they encountered Jesus. Andrew is usually found inviting or bringing someone to Jesus. He had some pretty good results…he invited Peter, who become one of the Apostles and he invited the little boy whose lunch Jesus used to feed the 5,000. The Power of the Invitation! The last powerful invitation, and I literally mean the last, is found in Revelation 22:17-18. In the last Book of the Bible, the last chapter of the Bible, among the last verses is an invitation to come…all who are thirsty are invited to come. It is the power of an invitation.

Use the little Passion Week Invite cards or just use an old fashioned invite. Let us pray about who we might invite to join us this Sunday or Easter Sunday. Who could we invite out to dinner after the worship service? The Power Of The Invitation…used by the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory.

See you this Sunday, good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This and That

CHARLESTON BAPTIST ASSOCIATION

Last week the Executive committee of the Charleston Baptist Association met. Moderator, Dr. Ron Dillon, of First Baptist Mt. Pleasant, brought 2 motions that were unanimously passed. The Executive Committee voted to create two study teams. The first would be to look at the future of the Charleston Baptist Association. Why do we exist, what are our goals, what would it look like to be successful, why are the majority of CBA churches not supporting the CBA, etc. It has been over 20 years wince we have taken a look at the purpose of CBA. This will be a look at the future, its purpose and organization. The second team will do a similar study for Bonnie Doone. We have all loved and appreciated Bonnie Doone over the years. Believe it or not, JIBC is one of the few Charleston Baptist Association Churches that have used Bonnie Doone over the last few years. Bonnie Doone is currently $150,000 in the hole financially. If I understand it correctly, it is costing us $4000 a month even with Bonnie Doone closed down with no one using it. This team will study the financial history of Bonnie Doone, the viability of it ever breaking even or operating in the black and get feedback from pastors. This team will then report back to the Executive Committee and the Charleston Baptist Association Annual meeting. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING: AT THIS POINT, THIS IS NOT A PLAN TO SELL BONNIE DOONE. PLEASE DO NOT START OR CONTINUE SUCH RUMORS. It is a study to look at the future of Bonnie Doone. This study team is only charged with studying the current situation and considering options. Thanks for being in prayer for both of these teams.

A TASTE OF JAMES ISLAND

Now to something more exciting…the Annual Taste of James Island Churches. Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 2 and join the fun and festivities sponsored by James Island outreach. This friendly cooking completion brings out the best from our area churches AND helps raise funds and awareness for James Island Outreach. Admission is one non-perishable food item for JIO. Remember, we are the “Jelly Church”…but you can bring anything! Saturday, May 2, look for more info to come.

REMEMBER 

Rhett Harter and the Remember Ministry still has room on the summer mission team going to Burma. You can go to www.rememberthose.org to find more information on the ministry and the mission trip. Opportunities are available working with medical clinics, construction, children’s ministries, videography and more. The total trip cost is $3,000. You want to make a difference and do something significant this summer…here is your opportunity.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Tom


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Relaxing, Unwinding and Unplugging

Janie and I just returned from a week of vacation. It was good to get away and relax, unwind and unplug. Sometimes we “do stuff” on our vacations…climb mountains, look for waterfalls, do Disney. This time we just focused on relaxing…not doing stuff. While we were away, I read a recently published book The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus written by Dallas Willard. Willard was a philosophy professor at USC…the other USC, the one in California. My preacher buddies and I consider Willard one of our mentors. He has influenced our thinking and our approach to Scripture and life. Let me give you an extended quote from Willard’s book:

“Christian apologetics is not an attempt to prove we’re right…You did not get saved because you were right. You got saved because of the grace of God, who loves you and gave his Son for you, and the Holy Spirit, which touched your heart through the word of the Gospel so that you found yourself believing…That is why so many churches have “Grace” in their name. Not many people want to go to “Right Church”, but will gladly go to “Grace Church”. I’ve been to “Right Church”…it’s a tough place. There are a lot of dead people at Right Church, because life comes by grace”.

The model of life and ministry is Jesus. His approach to the lost, to the open and searching, was with a gentle spirit. He made the Gospel accessible and attractive. He reveals a good and beautiful God who welcomed honest questions. As one person said of Willard’s book “he advocates for truth, born on the wings of grace, and does so in the manner of a fellow pilgrim, keen to listen and to share.” Sounds a lot like Jesus.

The bottom line for us, in defending our faith, is not just our positions on certain issues. It is our disposition as well. If truth would have been God’s only objective, He could have just dropped big old Bibles on our heads with a message that says “Read This-It Is True”. Instead, He sent Truth to us in the person of His Son, Jesus. Truth revealed in the personality of Jesus. God’s position on truth is seen in the personality and disposition of His Son, who is the Truth. It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate truth from personality. It is not enough to just be right. Remember what your mother told you: “God don’t like ugly”.

Truthfully, Willard’s books can be a little heady. So to balance it, we listened to a book on cd, The Shack by William Young! Wow, where have I been to miss this little gem. I laughed and wept on I-95 from Miami to Exit 33 at Pocotaligo! What a wonderful story of a loving God.

I recommend both of these to you. Willard’s writings, as I said, are a little more heady. Maybe a little more academic than we prefer for leisure reading. He is readable, but you may have to chew slowly. On the other hand, The Shack is fun and whimsical. You could read it in a night if you try hard. Either way, happy reading…be blessed.

Pastor Tom



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SIX WEEKS OF GREAT BIBLE STUDY

You may remember that the infamous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter this year. That was just before he bit the ear of the Mayor of Sunprairie! As cold as it has been, I am surprised the people of the northeast did not bite the groundhog’s ear.

Here is my winter prediction. The Sunday Connection Groups studying the Bible the next 8 weeks are in for a spiritual warming trend. March 1 through April 19 features 8 Bible Study lessons entitled “Like No Other: The Life of Christ.” I like to remind our folks that we study the Bible…we just give you a study guide book as a lite, but biblically sound, commentary and study guide. It is, however, the Bible, the Word of God, that we study. The next 8 weeks we have a premier study on the life of Christ. You may want attend a Sunday Connection Group even if you are in a weekday connection group. One of the real advantages is Bible Study provided for the whole family.

Our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Every aspect of His life and character are unique and call us to deeper study and devotion. The ultimate goal is that the next 8 weeks will find us more connected to Christ, our connection group, church family as well as our community and culture. I try to read the lessons every week as a part of my Bible Study time with God. I look forward to this particular study on The Life of Christ.

Don’t forget to be in prayer for Pastor Sean as he leads the church wide emphasis on family. The sermon series, the seminar on Understanding Teens and the Family Fun Day all promise to be great.

Pastor Tom


Thursday, February 26, 2015

JIBC Happenings

“More Than A Song”

February’s teaching series has been on worship. The series was entitled “More than a Song”. Worship is at the heart of what we do. We are committed to God’s purpose for the church: to lead people to be a part of the family of God; to develop them to become more like Jesus; to equip them to serve the Body of Christ with their unique gifts and abilities; and to send them into their community and world to make a difference. But at the heart of this purpose is worship; to offer all that we are to a Holy God; to respond to the character and nature of God with praise, adoration and thanksgiving. It is so much more than a song.

It has been said the reason we have missions is because there is not worship. If those we tried to reach were already worshipping the living God and our Lord Jesus, then there would be no need to reach them. Because God is in business to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken world…we are in the business to join Him. Somehow, with God’s help, worship is to be our goal, our motivation, the power of what we do. It is not just what we do on Sunday mornings…it is what we do every day. Sunday morning corporate worship is like the culmination of what we did the rest of the week. I pray that we will continually grow to be a people that worship Him in spirit and truth. So, clap your hands all you people, shout unto God with a voice of triumph. I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the LORD. Amen.


FAMILY TIME

Sean, our pastor of family ministries, has put together a great lineup of help for our families. First, he will launch a new series “A House Divided” starting this Sunday. The Sunday morning messages will be coordinated with the Wednesday night messages he teaches in youth worship. This should provide some great talking points for families. Second, there is the Family Fun Day on Saturday, March 21. This will be held at Medway Park. It is an opportunity for families to come out and have a BIG O FUN day together. Really, the price is right…free (unless you buy a hot dog…and the proceeds there go to missions). Bring your own lunch and drinks and it is F-R-E-E. Really, just come on out and have some fun. Third, Sean is bringing in a guest speaker for the UNDERSTANDING YOUR TEENAGER seminar, Sunday, March 22. It only cost $20 bucks. Really, only $20? That is less than a drive through at McDonalds. One visit to the counselor could cost $120.00. Please note the date was changed from February to MARCH 22. That is a Sunday night, 5:00 -8:00 p.m. You tell me you want to go but cannot afford it, I will scholarship you. The $20 is for mom, dad, grandparents, even your nanny...whoever is helping you parent your children. Childcare is available if you let us know it is needed. Parenting a preteen or teen can be challenging. We want to help, but you have to show up. These 3 major events are in addition to the weekly ongoing opportunities for discipleship, service and mission that can help your family.

Here are three heavy weight opportunities to help impact your family in a positive way. I am praying for you to take full advantage of them. Blessings and thanks for all you do.

Pastor Tom


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quite a Day at JIBC

23 units of blood given

We are thankful for Candy Oliver and our friends at the American Red Cross for arranging a blood drive at JIBC. We had a strong response with 23 units of blood given. Several others came out to give but were unable. Thank you for your support. Each unit of blood helps 3 more people. That means 69 people were helped by your donations. I am grateful that Janie and I are both able to give. As you know, our family has been on the receiving end of the blessing! Thanks to all of you who give, whether here at JIBC or at other collection sites. Thanks to all who came out and tried to give. We even had some cheerleaders on hand to encourage everyone who came!

Luz y Verdad New Room Dedication

Our Hispanic Church family, Luz Y Verdad, has seen wonderful growth over the last few months. They are almost as large in size as the average Southern Baptist Church in South Carolina. Because of your faithful tithes and offerings, we were able to give them another room for their expansion. We do not have to charge them rent or any expenses. Even though we no longer rent these rooms out, God has continued to provide. Thank you for giving so generously. They currently meet for worship in the room formerly known as the Café. It is almost entirely dedicated to the use of Luz Y Verdad now. They also have a small room between them and Barry’s Kitchen , that they use for a nursery. They have 2 small rooms they use for their food ministry and outreach ministries. Now, they have the room next door for their children and youth meetings. They need it. Yesterday, they had at least 60 adults, maybe 6 or 7 teens, around 12 children and quite a few babies. It was a beautiful sight! We arrived in time for their final two praise songs. Their band and singers sounded great and the people were engaged in celebration. We had a ribbon cutting and prayers of dedication. Pastor Sean prayed a blessing over their new Youth and Children’s Team and committed to taking one of their leaders, at our expense, to the next Youth Training event.

Worship: It’s More than a song

This week we will conclude the series on worship we are calling MORE THAN A SONG. I hope you have been blessed and challenged as we looked at ways to expand our worship, deepen our devotion and fan our emotions. This week our plan, good Lord willing, is to conclude this series with Communion and a greater time of worship and celebration. Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday: The Lord’s people, gathered on the Lord’s day, reading the Lord’s Word in His House. Indeed, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the House of the Lord.

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

LUZ Y VERDAD: HISPANIC MINISTRY BUILDING DEDICATION

This Sunday, Pastor Claudio and I will lead a dedication/ribbon cutting for their new Hispanic Children and Youth Room. The Hispanic Mission, Luz Y Verdad, continues to be blessed with growth. As God adds new families, they bring in more children and youth. In God’s perfect timing, the room next to their worship center became available. They have done a wonderful job of repairing, painting and getting the room ready for missions and ministry. This Sunday, February 15, we will meet around 12:30 outside the room by the café. Not to be terribly politically incorrect, but this is an approximate time. It could well be closer to 1:00. At any rate, I will be outside waiting for them at 12:30. For those who are new to our church family, the Hispanic Church, Luz Y Verdad, meets in the ministry center on the Maybank Highway side of our church campus. It is the tan building with the green awnings directly next to the Transition House. The Hispanic church worships in the café. They currently have around 50 in regular attendance. Just fyi, we really do not use the café for any events now. It is almost exclusively used for the Hispanic Ministry. They use another small room on the end of the building for their food ministry and the matching room on the Plymouth Avenue side for their clothing and other ministries. Now they will have an additional room, with bathroom facilities and storage, for their children and youth activities. To God be the glory. Years ago, the building was used almost exclusively for commercial rental purposes. Today, almost all the building is used for ministry and missions. The room that will be dedicated was formerly used as a show room for antiques and then a martial arts studio. Now it will be a show room for God’s grace and glory and a studio training young Hispanic disciples. Perhaps they will grow to work with God to reach, redeem and restore a lost and broken Hispanic culture!

JIBC, thank you for your faithful and generous giving. Because you give faithfully and generously, we are able to help support missions like Luz Y Verdad without charging them. We are able to make available to others what God has made available to us. Your tithes and offerings are used in many ways to support missions and ministries beyond our walls. To God be the glory.

Pastor Tom