Friday, March 31, 2006

Are You Ashamed?

Are you ashamed of God? Christ? The Gospel?

Most church-people would say, "No, of course not!" But maybe that is too quick of an answer.

Twice, the apostle Paul told Timothy, one of the leading pastors and proclaimers of God's truth in the early church, not to be ashamed. On more than one occasion the Bible addresses other Christians who are ashamed. Perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye. Could it be that you and I are ashamed of our Lord and the Gospel on some level?

Sunday morning we will learn some things from 2 Timothy 1:7-12 and Romans 1:15-16 that you probably haven't seen before. As I have studied these passages of Scripture this week, God has opened my eyes to what it looks like for a Christian to be 'ashamed of the Gospel.' We will learn how a simple decision to be 'unashamed' can go a long ways toward increasing our encouragement and our effectiveness as Christians in our community.

I hope to see you Sunday morning!

Pastor Noel Dear

We went to a hunting supply store this week and bought a new pair of baptism waders; we wore out the old ones. (I've always wanted to say that. Wouldn't it be great if we could say it again in a year or so!) I tried to get Pastor Wally to get the camouflaged waders with the bib on the front to hold shotgun shells, but he refused. Pray that he will learn to be more submissive to his pastor.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Da Vinci Code

Last night in our Adult Bible Study we studied the last dozen verses in Luke 1. One of the truths we saw emphasized in the Benedictus was the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. We talked about Leonardo DaVinci's painting, "The Virgin of the Rock," and how that painting depicts a different relationship between these two. We then discussed the book and upcoming movie, Da Vinci Code, and how the upcoming movie may cloud people's minds when it comes to the truth of Scripture and the nature of Christ.

Here is the question I posed to the Wednesday night crowd: Should we ignore the movie in an attempt not to draw any added attention to it or appear to be encouraging people to see it? Or should we offer seminars and Q&A sessions for people in the community to address the book/movie's historical lies? We would love to use this as a witnessing tool, but we do not want to become part of Hollywood's publicity campaign and we certainly don't want people to go see the movie because of our encouragement.

What do you think? We had a pretty lively discussion last night. Post your comment here. I must make a decision prior to Easter so we will have time to do publicity (and I will have time to study).

Pastor Noel Dear

Monday, March 27, 2006

Losing Weight For Easter

What a good day we had yesterday. They tell me our attendance was the highest in a long time. It was so good to see people being baptized again this week. (I'm not sure how many weeks in a row that gives us.) Pastor Wally told me even his socks were wet when he finally crawled out of his waders.

Easter is less than three weeks away! So, it's a busy night around the church. Visitation is underway, people are out inviting guests to be a part of our Easter events; the drama team is working on the Easter production; the costume people are fitting choir members for Easter costumes; the banner team is sowing banners for Easter worship; and the weight loss group is meeting... I suppose to lose weight for Easter...

I've stuck my head into all the meetings except the weight loss group. They say I'm bad for their morale.

On another note, we have had a very encouraging response to our announcement that we are seeking a full time music pastor. I am looking forward to seeing how God will work through the process. Keep the search in your prayers!

I was proud of our church Sunday when the congregation stood in applause to show the gratitude we have for Stan and Gina and their leadership in recent months. It is no exaggeration that through them we have been blessed beyond measure. May all of God's servants here at First Baptist serve as faithfully!

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Heads Up

There is not much blog-worthy going on today...

I can talk a little about Sunday. This Sunday morning, I will be teaching from Luke 10:29-37. We will be unpacking our new CONNECT strategy. This will be a key day in the life of our church. Be praying that people will come with very open minds and hearts ready to do whatever it takes to reach our community.


This Sunday I have a very big announcement!!!

Do you want to know what it is? Then I guess I'll see you Sunday.

Sunday evening we will continue our THEREFORE series. We will be focusing on Hebrews 13:8-14. The message is titled, "Make No Provision for the Flesh."

By the way... We will put the audio of Wednesday's Bible study, about why the Virgin Birth of Christ is important to us, on line. Check the website on Monday. CD's are available by calling the office or by ordering from our online store (on Monday).

Pastor Noel Dear

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My Week Started Better Than Yours

This past Monday evening, after seeing so many people come to our community outreach dinner that we ran out of food, pastor Wally and I went on a visit to see the parents of a girl who had participated in our Upward Basketball program. We sat for a few minutes and talked; the husband and wife were very gracious hosts. The couple told us about all the things that had happened in their lives in recent months to point them toward God. They bragged about Upward and what it meant to their family. The wife talked about visiting a ladies Sunday School class at our church the day before and how special that was.

Obviously, God had been working on them. Pastor Wally and I shared the gospel as plainly as we could; then we asked if there were any reason they would not want to ask God to save them right then. They responded enthusiastically. Both prayed. Both confessed their faith in Christ. And both pledged to follow through with believer's baptism!

It was exciting to hear how God had brought them through obstacles in life to get them to where they are now. The husband has lived a sometimes difficult life and faced some recent medical challenges. The wife had a bad experience with 'organized religion' as a child, and, as an engineer, had struggled with the concept of faith. But through it all, God saved them!

What a great start to the week!

By the way, this week has seen some other highlights as well...

Tom and Susan Brown had a baby girl over the weekend, and Ron and Sheryl Tank had a baby boy on Tuesday. On a sad note, Dolores Roy, the lady we baptized in her bath tub and showed the video at church, died yesterday, but as my seven year old daughter reminded me when I told her, "Dad, that's not bad news. Now she gets to go to heaven."

Pastor Noel Dear

Monday, March 20, 2006

What in the World is Going On?

When I sat down last July (it was about 95 degrees and 95% humidity) and told my kids we were moving to Ohio; they were sad. Then I told them about the snow; they were happy!

My then four year old had never seen snow that she could remember, and my then six year old could remember only a 1" snow fall a few years back. I explained that we were moving to a land where it snowed all winter. I described how the snow would pile up in drifts. We dreamed about snow angels, and sledding, and snow men. Obviously, God was in this move (from their perspective).

We moved here, and except for one brief snow in the late fall, NOTHING! The girls have their sleds, their snow man hat, even a corn-cob-pipe... but no snow... warmest winter in fifty years...

Now it's spring. We're finally over the no-snow-blues. I built the girls a swing set last weekend. We/they are ready for the warmth of the sun. And now what? The weather man is saying we will get six inches of snow tomorrow!

I'm sure there is a sermon in this somewhere, but nothing is coming to me. So, if you get bored tomorrow, come to my house. We will be taking out all of the snow toys our warm-weathered-family sent the kids for Christmas, and we are going to finally celebrate Winter, in the Spring!

Pastor Noel Dear

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's A Wrap

Well, it's after 9:00, time to go home.

I just had supper with a couple of our new members. God is really bringing us some key people to help us move forward!

We had a pretty good day today...

Two adults made professions of faith in the morning service, one teen came to share that she had made a profession of faith this past week, and we saw three people baptized.

This morning in worship we focused a little closer on the upcoming change in our Sunday School. This coming Sunday we will lay it all on the table. To be honest, I'm a little nervous because nobody is complaining about the changes. I've met with all of the current teachers; I've shared with leadership; we've begun to talk about the focus and the details in our worship services, and so far as I know everyone's on board! What a joy it is to have such unity. I earnestly ask you to pray this week for the next step. Pray that I will make wise decisions as we proceed. Pray that God will continue to guard the unity of our church as we make such bold changes. Pray that God will be honored and people will be reached through our efforts.

This week will be fairly busy. We're getting set for the Easter publicity, setting up a new church database system, working out the last details of our new small group strategy, and going over new directions for our Children's ministry. We will also be finalizing the details of our Discipleship Ladder - Class 3, and hopefully making some progress on our international missions partnership.

I'll try to keep you posted on our progress as the week goes by.

Pastor Noel Dear

Friday, March 17, 2006

Sunday's Messages

It's Friday, so I'll be brief, but I wanted to give you a head's up on Sunday's messages...

Sunday morning we will be talking about 'How To Do Church.' In our consumer culture, most people see church as a show for entertainment, or a buffet for fulfillment, or even a land fill for getting rid of unwanted parts of life. That isn't how the Bible describes church, and that isn't what we need church to be. We will look at Hebrews 10:24-25 and learn the proper way to do church. When church is what church should be, then church will be a tool to enrich and change our lives, and of course, to honor God.

Sunday evening, we will continue our walk through the last chapters of Romans. This week we come to Romans 13:1-7. This is one of the most interesting passages in this part of Romans. We will try to briefly identify the Scripture answer to these six questions as we walk through the seven verses:
  • Should you obey the laws?
  • How should you respond to an ungodly law?
  • Is the death penalty biblical?
  • Should our government wage war?
  • Should you pay your taxes?
  • Can we criticize our governmental leaders?

I know that sounds like a lot to cover, and we may skip one of the questions, but this passage gives a pretty succinct answer to each one, and we'll see that this Sunday evening.

I still haven't gotten caught up on putting audio's on the website or on the podcast, but hopefully by next Tuesday it will all be done and caught up from at least January 1 through this Sunday.

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Making an Impact Around the World

How would you like to partner with a group of believers in another part of the world and help them lead their city to Christ?

What if God gave us an area where we could plant ourselves for the next ten years or longer? Where we could regularly send mission teams; build relationships with local missionaries and local Christians; support a local pastor and church; learn the culture and maybe even a little of the language; and make an eternal impact on people we would otherwise never know? What if we could involve our children either from here making things or from there sharing with people? What if our youth could catch a vision for how God could really use them? What if God used our partnership to call some of our young people to the mission field on a permanent basis? What if we really learned to pray for missions because we had such close ties to the missions efforts through our partnership? What if we could see how God could use our church to be a blessing to a church struggling to reach lost people in an 'unchristian' culture?

What if?

Pray for me and our pastoral staff as we wrestle with some of those questions this week and next. I believe God may be about to lead us to something that will change us and our families for ever. May God's will be done.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Children & Teens

May I share some good news with you? God is blessing our youth and children's ministries!

Yesterday, Troy Kilpatrick, who leads our youth ministries was sharing with me about their regular Sunday evening youth worship. They had about sixty teens! And at least one made a profession of faith following the service! I believe in youth ministry, and I believe in our youth ministry here at First Baptist Heath. When I was seventeen and lost, a youth ministry much like ours here, reached out to me and shared the good news of Jesus. God saved me, and my life has not been the same since. I believe that same thing is happening almost every week as Troy and his leadership team lead our youth.

May God continue to bless that ministry and safeguard Troy and his fellow leaders.

Well, what about our children? We have a new children's ministry director, Sam Smith. I am very excited about what God is going to do through Sam's ministry. We already have a good foundation and some excellent children's ministries from Awana's to Upward Basketball to Kid's Choir to Praise Kids to Vacation Bible School to Bus Ministries to Christmas for the Kids... We have a good foundation, and we have had superb leadership, but there is so much more that we can do.

I believe our children's ministry can be on the cutting edge of how we are reaching our community for Christ. Be on the look-out for new ways this ministry will shine in the days to come, and pray for Sam, that God will give him wisdom and strength as he leads.

By the way, a little plug for our prayer ministry (and God, of course). I felt certain that Sam was the one for the position, but it couldn't really happen unless he could change jobs. We prayed that God would give Sam the job he needed to be able to also handle this new responsibility. We had faith that God would provide so we went ahead with the announcement on Sunday. Monday after lunch, Sam and I were walking through Harmon Hall discussing children's ministry possibilities and his cell phone rang. It was a company in Columbus calling to offer him a job! Sam and I stopped what we were doing and thanked God right then for His goodness and provision. Our God is so good!

Pastor Noel Dear

Monday, March 13, 2006

Looking Toward Easter

Now that our revival services are past, we focus our attention on Easter. For the follower of Christ, there should be no day we look more forward to than Easter. Our faith, our hope, and our assurance are grounded in the resurrection of Christ. As the apostle Paul said, "If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty [and] futile, [and] you are still in your sins! (1 Cor. 15:14, 17b)

We have big plans for Easter Sunday. Our hope is that it will turn into a real outreach day for our church. We have set a goal of 1,200 people in worship! In the next two weeks, you will hear much about our plans and how you can be involved. Pray for the final strategy decisions that will be made on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Pray that we will be able to reach many new families with the message of the Cross. Pray that everything that happens here on Easter will honor God.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Proud of My Church

In a part of the country where I'm told, 'no one will go to a revival,' and a day when it has been pointed out to me, 'no unchurched people could be persuaded to attend,' we had a great revival. We had very good crowds in each of the five services, even Monday when it was snowing with freezing rain, and we all had to scrape the ice off our windows to get home. In every service we had many people present who do not ordinarily attend church anywhere. We had people saved every day! (I'll get the counseling cards from last night later this morning when the staff arrives, but we had over ten adults make professions of faith in the last service.)

I am so proud of my people. Again, your commitment, hard work, and faithfulness has exceeded my expectations. I was amazed at our attendance in every service. It thrilled my heart to be able to meet so many of your family, friends, and neighbors, who do not often attend church. I asked you to be a blessing to Pastor Danny in the love offering and you came through. Dr. Lanier was speechless when he left. You have truly been a blessing to him and to his family, and God will honor that in our church in the days to come. Well done, church!

Pray for our upcoming Sunday services. Pray that all those who have made professions of faith this past week will be able to be baptized this Sunday morning.

On another note, we have had two deaths associated with our church since I last blogged. Chuck Cameron's mother passed away on Monday evening, and Cheryl Sweitzer's dad passed away on Tuesday morning. Keep those families in your prayers.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Itching to Preach

Last week I spent a couple days at the Ohio Evangelism Conference. I probably sat through six sermons there. Now this week, Danny Lanier is preaching for me, and I am sitting through five more sermons. It's hard for a preacher to sit through eleven sermons and at the same time go two weeks without preaching! If I had hair, I would be pulling it out.

Needless to say, I am itching to preach.

I have been working on my upcoming Sunday evening message. Since revival will be over, we can get back to our walk through the last five chapters of Romans. This week we will focus on how we are to treat our enemies.

Knowing how to respond to difficult people or even mean-spirited people is an important life skill. How many times a week are we confronted with people who are insensitive or antagonistic toward us? Sometimes we face this at work, in the community, at home, or even at church! As I have studied the last eleven verses of Romans 12, I believe God has given us three attitudes, or three approaches we should take when this happens.

If we will strive for these three attitudes, two things will happen. First, we will be more at peace. We won't get so upset or angry. We won't have our day ruined by the actions or insensitivities of others. Second, we will become an instrument of God in the life of the one who is our 'enemy.' Perhaps we could be a blessing to our antagonist instead of letting our anger become a stumbling stone in his or her life.

Pray for me as I continue to study. I need to learn this lesson as much as anyone. My prayer is that God will change me in this respect, and then allow me to just teach you from Scripture what God has taught me.

Pastor Noel

Revival -- Monday

We had another good revival service last night. To be honest, I was a little concerned about what the level of participation would be. I know this isn't the part of the country where churches often do 'revivals.' I know Monday nights are hard nights for many people, especially young families with children. On top of that, what a snowy, icy mess the weather was...

But, we had a great crowd! The altar was full. Six people made professions of faith!

Two more nights of revival services remain. Keep praying.

Monday, March 6, 2006

China Missions

A very good friend of mine is traveling this week to China to work with the underground church. It is a secret and dangerous trip, but it will give him opportunity to be an encouragement with and do some training for the leaders of the underground church in one of the most difficult regiouns of that country.

As my friend was putting this trip (his second) together in November, he challenged me to read a book called 'Safely Home' by Randy Alcorn. It is a fiction book that fairly accurately tells the story of the underground church in China. I read the book and it has changed my life. I recommend the book very highly. It will give you a different perspective on church, worship, missions, and what it really means to be a Christian.

Pray for my friend.

He will not be able to contact me while he is in China for obvious reasons, but I will let you know how the trip went when he returns in a few weeks.


Monday Morning

We had a good day yesterday in revival. We saw an additional person come forward last night to make public a profession of faith, and we had dozen's at the altar making other kinds of decisions.

Two prayer concerns I want to share with you this morning...

Cheryl Sweitzer called this morning and shared with me that her father (Jerry McCune) will likely pass away today. Pray for Jerry, his wife Marjorie, and for Cheryl.

E.J. Franks had emergency surgery last night. As of the writing of this blog, I don't know exactly what his condition is.


Sunday, March 5, 2006


This morning we had our first of five revival services. We had a great crowd. Evangelist Danny Lanier did a great job. Seven professions of faith (one after the service) and six baptisms thus far today.

Pray for the remaining services.

We had a great 'pastor's lunch' today. God bless those ladies who work so hard for me and pastor Wally to be able to have such a nice lunch with a few families from our church and community every two weeks. Their service really helps me get to know the people in our church and community so much better.