Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THE SEASON OF ADVENT: ANTICIPATION AND HOPE

Let’s review for a moment why we are celebrating“CHRISTMAS…ON PURPOSE”.  The word “advent” means coming or arrival. Many churches celebrate the Advent Season as a way to focus on the first advent of Jesus Christ and His second advent, His return. It is indeed a season of hope and anticipation. It is a way to celebrate the truth of God; that God became a man born of the Virgin Mary; and by his life, death and resurrection provided life, forgiveness of sin and purpose.

In a secular world, it is too easy to be swept up by the commercial nature of Christmas. Each week as we gather for worship, we will read a part of God’s Word that tells of His advent; we will light purple candles as a reminder of His royalty and a pink candle as a reminder of the great joy caused by His coming. Each week it is a reminder to reflect and to remember to celebrate Christmas on purpose and with purpose.

The Magi, as wise men from the East, honored the first advent by bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. How can we honor Him this year? What do you give a King who owns it all? We are encouraging our church family to consider special advent gifts this year. Gifts related to ministries that we support throughout the entire year. These are gifts they have requested as helpful and useful. The first Sunday of Advent is November 30. Would you bring reusable water bottles for Florence Crittenton, the home for young unwed mothers? The second Sunday of Advent, you could bring boys pajamas…any size, for the Lowcountry Orphan Relief. Week three would be jelly, any flavor, for our partnership with James Island Outreach. The fourth Sunday of Advent would, appropriately enough, be diapers. That would have been great for the first advent or any year there are babies involved! Our friends at Lowcountry Pregnancy will appreciate the gifts of love.

Do you see where we are going with this? Celebrate His coming…the Advent of God’s Son. God becoming flesh; the Light coming into a world of darkness; a Savoir for people in need of saving! It is a celebration. The focus of advent is on Him. The gifts we give to others share the good news of hope, peace, joy and love. My prayer is we will have so many of each gift, we will have trouble transporting them all.  Let's do Christmas...On Purpose.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas



Pastor Tom


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014: Let’s Take It Up A Notch

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
 for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

It has been said that gratitude is the greatest of all virtues and the parent of all other virtues. I think I agree with this statement. I do believe the attitude of gratitude plays a major role in God’s blessings in our lives. Even for the non-believing, I think the attitude of gratitude makes a real difference in every aspect of our lives. Read the verses from Thessalonians again. Look at the parts: joy, prayer, thanksgiving, God’s will and the power of the Holy Spirit. My point is that right in the middle of the wonderful mix is thanksgiving. The listing of joy is connected to thanksgiving. The mention of prayer is along with thanksgiving. Doing God’s will follows thanksgiving. Even finding the blessing of the Holy Spirit is connected to this powerful virtue of all virtues…being grateful.

This year, Thanksgiving 2014, I want you to enjoy what I am calling your BFFFF. Not best friends forever. Rather Black Friday, family, feast and for many…football! Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. President George Washington did us a favor by proclaiming the first nation-wide day of Thanksgiving. He did it as a time for a grateful country to give thanks to Almighty God. Let’s continue the tradition. Let’s make this a day of Thanksgiving. How do we take a good tradition and make it better? How do we go from good to great!

See if you can wrap your brain around this idea. Gary Chapman wrote the book The Five Love Languages. See if you can find a creative way to say “thank you” using the five love languages. Say “thank you” to God and/or to those who have blessed your life. Here are the five love languages: words of affirmation; quality time; acts of service; receiving gifts; and physical touch. Why not? Thanksgiving 2014 let’s take it up a notch. If you care to, email or face book me and tell me your experience. I would love to hear what He did!

See you this Sunday for our annual Thanksgiving Worship Celebration. No 8:30 service. Sunday Connection Groups met at the regular time.

Pastor Tom




Friday, November 14, 2014

SHARING RESOURCES


Even as I am typing this article, the James Island Exchange Club is holding their monthly meeting in the fellowship hall. Next week we will have a Riverland Terrace community meeting led by Sunoco concerning future building plans across the street. (Don’t ask, we do not know any details! LOL) JIBC regularly hosts, by providing space, The Riverland Terrace Neighborhood Association meeting.

Really, none of these are burdensome or difficult. But I want to thank you for being the kind of church family that gives us the freedom to reach out and serve the community in so many different ways. Believe it or not, there are some churches that are not so willing to share their space and resources. We, on the other hand, are looking for ways to build bridges to the community. It is a part of our ON PURPOSE strategy. What need does the community have that we could meet? Sometimes it is just a nice place to hold a meeting. That is just one of the things I love about our church family. Thanks.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH

Believe it or not, we are just a few days away from Thanksgiving and then full on into the Christmas season. We are already writing the Advent readings for this year. This year’s Thanksgiving service will be Sunday, November23. We will not have an 8:30 service that day. We will join together for the 11:00 service to celebrate The Eucharist…thanksgiving for what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. We will then enjoy the annual Thanksgiving meal provided by our outstanding Kitchen Krew. You are invited to bring your favorite dessert, or if you would like, your favorite dish. There will be plenty. Weather permitting; we will be seated outside and inside this year. There will be a tent set up outside and the fellowship hall will be prepared for the inside. There will be plenty of food, plenty of love and plenty of fellowship to be enjoyed. And then by the time the tables are cleared, we will start setting up for this years Christmas season! Bring it on baby. I love the Christmas season.

See you this Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A GREAT FALL FESTIVAL

Thanks to the tremendous number of volunteers who made this year’s Fall Festival such a success. We really have no way of accurately knowing the number of people that attended. We only know it looked bigger than ever before. To those of you who brought candy, gave money, set up and took down, volunteered at the booths, cooked, registered, played, provided safety, etc…a great big thank you. Certainly families had a wonderful and safe alternative to Halloween. Some of our team has already started thinking about next year and how we can make it bigger and better. Now join us as we pray for the follow up efforts. Thank you again for your willingness to work and to serve in an event aimed at the community. We believe that some of those who attended will have occasion to visit JIBC or will come in contact with some of our family. Let’s pray for His will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.


THANKSGIVING SUNDAY

We are only three weeks away from our annual Thanksgiving Sunday Celebration. On this Sunday, we will not have an 8:30 worship. We will all join together for an 11:00 Worship service followed by a church wide Thanksgiving Meal. On this Sunday we will celebrate Lord’s Supper and recognize all who have joined JIBC or one of our connection groups this past year. For them, we are particularly thankful. It is a good time of the year to start thinking about a special offering to International Missions. Southern Baptist usually have a Lottie Moon International Missions Christmas offering. Generally speaking, we give the International Missions Offering to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Talk with your family concerning your gift this year. It is a worthwhile way to see your Christmas gift used to help change lives as the Gospel is preached around the world.

See you this Sunday, good Lord willing!

Pastor Tom



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MISSION NIGHT CELEBRATION AND PRAYER GATHERING



This coming Wednesday night, November 5, will be an outstanding night of mission celebration and prayer. Throughout the year we have JIBC members serving in a variety of places. Some are across the street, some are across the river and some are across the ocean. This Wednesday night, NOVEMBER 5 will be an opportunity for you to hear a little bit about a lot of missions.

Who is on the line up and where did they serve? Mark Livengood-Ukraine; Cheryl Parish-Romania; Mary Braxton-China; Rhett Harter-Burma-Myanmar (Rhett will be out of town and will not be able to report. He will buy everyone chocolate chip cookies to make up for it); Pastor Claudio-Luz Y Verdad, our Hispanic Ministry; a member from the Chinese Church that has relocated to Citadel Square Baptist will give an update; a report from Baltimore on Brent Gordon, church planter; Norty Glover-James Island Outreach; a report on Haiti and JIBC; and the Transition House. Get first hand reports on what your friends are seeing God do in these diverse areas.

You gotta love the coverage. I am so grateful for a going church. Our strength is
not measured by how many we seat. It is also measured by how many we send. This does not include groups like the Youth who do mission work as a part of their summer camp experience. Come on out for dinner being served from 5:00-6:15. Join Marty and the praise team in the sanctuary/worship center for worship from 6:15-6:30. Then hear the mission praise reports and join in prayer from 6:30-7:30.

All the Wednesday night groups, except the preschoolers will be joining together for this Mission Night Celebration and Prayer Gathering. Awana, all the Awana leaders, listeners, helpers, the Ephesians Bible Study class, the Finance Class, Pastor Tom’s coffee group and First Place will join together for Mission Night. Just an idea—you might want to hear these speakers and invite them to your connection group for a more detailed report. I suspect they would be delighted to share and have prayer support. I am so looking forward to this night. See you there…good Lord willing.

Pastor Tom




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Life You’ve Always Wanted

John Ortberg has written the book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. Several of our connection groups are using this book as the “maturity” part of their group life. I am using the topics for the teaching series during October and November. The series is about the transforming work of God in our lives. It is not just our spiritual lives; it is every part of our lives. I enjoyed reading the book years ago and am enjoying rereading it now. Our connection groups are watching a DVD taught by John Ortberg and using the study course books. I have no doubt that this can be a life changing opportunity leading to a fresh encounter with Jesus. Susan Warren has ordered several copies of the book for anyone that would like to purchase one. You can buy the book on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble or Lifeway. For those who would like to have it Sunday, we will have copies available at cost, $18. I will make this offer: if you buy the book and do not like it, I will buy it back from you. I will always know someone ready for the next step in their spiritual life.


COMMUNITY OUTREACH EVENT: FALL FESTIVAL

We are just days away from our major community outreach event, The Fall Festival. Friday night, October 31 will bring over 500 non-church members to our campus. They will be met with love, laughter and lots of candy! As Pastor Sean said Sunday, we can use volunteers at every level. Would you like to come and pray? We could use people who would prayer walk during the event as well as those in a room, dedicated to praying. (Well of course, all of us could prayer walk as we go!) Would you like to sit and register, greeting those who come? How about serving as a runner keeping all the booths filled with candy? We could use a clean -up team for afterwards; help in the kitchen; trash can emptiers, etc. For the really brave, we can always use volunteers for the dunk tank. (No thanks, I did my time and raised $400 for orphans in China.) In other words, if you are willing we can use you. You could volunteer for one hour, the whole event, before or after. Our goal is to provide a safe, fun, family friendly event that is a positive alternative to some of the traditional Halloween events.

See you Sunday, good Lord willing, as the church family known as James Island Baptist gathers to worship, mature and enjoy fellowship.

Pastor Tom


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SO HOW DOES THIS WORK?


We are just about 2 weeks away from one of our largest community outreach events of the year. Our 27th annual Fall Festival will take place, as it does each year, on October 31. This year that happens to be Friday, October 31. It is always on the same day as Halloween by design. We are really attempting to go head to head with the traditional Halloween experience. We offer a safe, family friendly, fun event. I get it, for most parents and children, Halloween is an innocent night of fun getting pounds of free candy. It is however, very difficult to separate the dark, and even evil, side of Halloween. Centuries ago, believers attempted to do the same thing we are doing…to reclaim and redeem something broken for the glory of God. I refuse to be among the small group of Christians who complain about evil and brokenness and do little to change it. We go head to head with a tradition offering a godly tradition of family fun, led by the people of God, on the campus where the church of God gathers to worship. We frame the picture, we set the agenda for the glory of God.

This is a community event that has far more than doubled in attendance over the past few years. On this single night, we will have more non-churched people on the church campus that at any other time. Ours is the opportunity to meet and greet, love and encourage, laugh and celebrate so they may see The Good and Beautiful God and at least taste some of The Good and Beautiful Life. My prayer is that we will build relationships with the community so one day we can build community with the community. We become all things to all people that we might have the opportunity to win some to a life changing relationship with our Lord Jesus.

Just a reminder about the Fall Festival. Please, consider how you decorate and what you wear.

No witches, zombies, bloodied bodies, etc. I know people from the community will show up like that…that is ok. We do not expect the world to act any different than like the world. But really, no tramp costumes, no sexy nurses or French maids…really. Remember you are around preschoolers and children. This is a church sponsored event and we are trying to make a good impression on the community.

Now, let’s pray and let’s prepare. Pray for Felicia Hebert. She is usually our Commander and Chief at this event. This year, health issues prevent her from doing all she loves to do. Pray for her health and the healing of God. Pray for safety. Pray that all who come to this campus will be protected from anything that would move against them. Pray for volunteers. There is no way the largest community outreach event happens without the largest number of volunteers.

See you Sunday, good Lord willing,

Pastor Tom