Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Men's Connect Groups -- Part 2

Below is another email I sent out to all of the men in our church for whom we have an email in our system. For some of our men we either don't have an email at all or we have an incorrect email. So, here it is...


Dear Men of First Heath,

This morning, let me recommend another men's connect group for next semester...

About a year ago I picked up a book someone had recommended to me called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I don't think at that point I had even had heard of Francis Chan. The book was short and easy to read, so it didn't take long to get through, but wow! It turned out to be one of the very best books I've ever read.

Crazy Love is about how much God loves us and how we can be closer to Him. And while that seems like the theme to a hundred thousand books, this book is different. This book is so genuine and so fresh, I promise it will change your outlook and understanding of how much God loves people.

This next Connect Ministry semester, Sam Smith, who I think read the book about the same time I did, will be leading a connect group centered around a study of this book.

This would be a great group for all of our men, young or old, new Christian or long-time Christian.

The group will meet at the church each Monday, at 6:00 a.m..

If you would like just a taste of what the book is about, visit the website and watch some of the brief videos there.

You can see all of the men's groups on our website: Click on "Love People" and then on the link for our Connect Group Catalogue.

To sign-up for this group or any other group, just visit our website or call our church office (740-522-5245). If you have any questions about the groups that are offered, email our small groups pastor, Pastor Shawn (, and he will be glad to help you.

In Christ,
Pastor Noel

Monday, December 28, 2009

Men's Connect Groups -- Part 1

This is a copy of an email I sent out to all of the men in our church for whom we have an email in our system. For some of our men we either don't have an email at all or we have an incorrect email. So, here it is...


Dear Men of First Heath,

As you probably know, we are in the process of helping people sign-up for our next semester of small groups. We call these groups Connect Groups.

Last semester we saw a number of new men get connected in groups and we saw these same men really begin to grow stronger in their faith and walk with the Lord. I believe this next semester will be even better.

This semester we are offering seven men's groups. These seven groups will be offered on five different days of the week. There will be morning groups and evening groups... There will be weekend groups and weekday groups... There will be something to fit any man's schedule. Of course, many of you will choose to be in one of the thirteen mixed adult groups instead of specifically a men's group and that is fine, but take a close look at the men's groups that are offered this semester and see what fits best for you.

You can see all of the men's groups on our website: Click on "Love People" and then on the link for our Connect Group Catalogue.

Let me highlight one of our men's groups today. I'll highlight more in emails later in the week.

Apologetics: Surprised By Faith
Group Leader: Dr. Eric Chico
When: Tuesdays, 7:00 a.m.

Have you ever wondered what the evidences or the proofs for our faith were? Have you ever struggled with how you could speak intelligently with an unbeliever or a skeptic about why he should choose Christ? Have you wrestled with some of the criticisms of the Christian faith and wished you could give a better answer either for your own benefit or the benefit of someone else? If so, this would be a great group to be a part of.

Eric has spent his life studying apologetics, the reasons and the arguments behind why we believe what we believe. Eric is uniquely qualified to lead this group.

This would be a great group for men who want to stretch their faith.

To sign-up for this group or any other group, just visit our website or call our church office (740-522-5245). If you have any questions about the groups that are offered, email our small groups pastor, Pastor Shawn (, and he will be glad to help you.

In Christ,
Pastor Noel

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Focused on Service

Each week in our Connect Ministry (small groups), our leaders spend some time focusing on encouraging people to be involved in ministry and service. I just had a meeting this morning where we reviewed some of the new sign-ups. It is so encouraging to see so many of our people getting involved!

As an example, in my Tuesday Morning Men's Group, we had eleven in attendance today. Of those eleven men, three signed up to come listen to boys say their AWANA verses on Wednesday nights, two signed up for our weekly soul winning class, and one signed up to serve in our Food Pantry Ministry.

Our leaders are doing such a great job encouraging people to serve... Disciples are being made!

Thankful to Pastor such a Wonderful Church,
Pastor Noel

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Letter to the Church...

Below is an email I sent to our church members for whom we have an email address on record...


Dear Church Family,

I'm in my church study preparing for our weekly staff meeting, and I thought I would send out a quick email to the church and share some good news...

First, I just received an email from a lady in our church that felt convicted to go and share Christ with her 95-year-old, Jehovah's Witness aunt. She took her notes from my sermon on the myth "Dead People Go To A Better Place". Her aunt repented of her sins and professed her faith in Christ. Wow!

Some more good news...

Sunday, September 27, was the first day in our new Connect Ministry semester. We had a record attendance of 419 people for the first week! We were up in every age category we measure. We were very grateful for that incredible number but had braced for the number to drop for week two. Guess what... it didn't drop... it went up! When all of the numbers are in, it looks like the total will be between 440 and 450 in small group attendance.

Tomorrow (10/7) I will begin to focus on 1 & 2 Timothy in my daily quiet time videos. If you would like a little help and accountability with your quiet times, check out to see my daily videos. There is an introductory video you can view here and then just join in with the others who are sharing together in our devotions each morning.

This coming Sunday morning I will be continuing my series on "Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe." We will be focusing on the myth: God Forgets All Our Sins. I am looking forward to the day of worship. I hope you will be here with us.

Pastor Wally, Pastor Shawn, Scott, and I will be meeting early tomorrow morning, as we do each Wednesday, to specifically pray for our church members and our community. If you send an email to before 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, I promise we will pray especially for you and your need when we gather together.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thoughts on Last Sunday and the Next...

This past Sunday was a great Sunday of worship...
  • We had a great crowd... both on the main floor and in the balcony! (In fact we had some families that had a difficult time finding seats together. I want to remind our regular worship attenders to sit as close to the front as you can get and to scoot to the center of the row you are sitting on. That will help us make things easier and more comfortable for our guests each week.)
  • We began the service with baptisms which has become an almost weekly occurrence. I pray this will always be true, and I pray that we never get 'used to it'. We should always marvel at the grace of God that changes lives.
  • We had a very good response during our invitation... a number of people and families praying at the altar. We had one young adult lady make a profession of faith and three youth make public that they had made professions of faith over the weekend.
  • Sunday night was a blast. We had a real wedding in our evening worship service... Sound strange? It was great! We had a young couple come into our church a few weeks ago. They made a profession of faith and began to allow the grace of God to change their lives. One of the things they wanted to do was to get married and re-start their family the right way. They didn't have the resources to have a wedding so we decided we would just make it a part of our worship service and celebrate the grace of God... How God's grace was changing them and how God's grace is changing all of us. So we had a wedding, a sermon, and a couple of baptisms... Then we had a giant reception. I was so proud of how our church came out to celebrate with the young couple and how they blessed them with money and gifts at the reception... Wow! What a great example of the love of Christ.
This next Sunday is going to be fun as well...
  • Our new semester of Connect Groups begins Sunday. We are hoping for a record attendance and involvement in our Connect Ministry beginning this week. If you haven't signed up for a group, there is still a few days left. Go to our website, fill out the form, and choose your group. Some of the groups are closed now, but we will do our best to get you in the group you choose.
  • This week we will be continuing our series of messages on 'Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe.' This weeks myth is... God Helps Those Who Help Themselves. We will be in Genesis 16.
  • Pastor Wally just let me know we have two more baptisms schedule for this Sunday morning!
A quick note on our daily Quiet Time encouragements. If you sometimes struggle with having a daily devotional time, take a look at our daily QT Encouragement blog...

Pastor Noel

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Song for Worship...

Pastor Wally, Pastor Shawn, and Church Administrator Scott are working on doing this little number in an upcoming service...

Pastor Noel

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe

There are two things on my mind this morning as I do a little studying and praying about what is on the horizon at First Baptist Church of Heath…

First, I am looking forward to our new message series that begins this Sunday. After spending six weeks focusing on just two chapters in the Book of Revelation, now we are going to skip around the Bible for the next six weeks. I am borrowing this series title from a Larry Osborne book I read a while back. As soon as I saw the book title, I thought this would make a great message series if the Lord gave me liberty to preach it. So the title of our upcoming series is “Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe”. Larry, in his book, identifies ten of these dumb things. In my message series, I plan to address six. Three of mine are similar to his; three are different. Here is my list…

Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe
• Myth #1: Your Conscience Should Be Your Guide (9/13)

• Myth #2: Dead People Go To A Better Place (9/20)

• Myth #3: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves (9/27)

• Myth #4: God Forgets All Our Sins (10/4)

• Myth #5: God Has A Blueprint For My Life (10/11)

• Myth #6: All Things Work Together For Your Good (10/18)

Invite your friends, family, and co-workers. Let’s see how God’s Word can encourage us as we learn the truth about these myths.

Second, I have received much positive feedback from our on-line quiet time encouragement videos. Tomorrow (9/8) I will begin to focus on the Gospel of John. If you would like to join me for these quiet times for a few weeks, this would be a good place to start.

The best way to begin is to watch the video I made on how to have a quiet time. Then just jump in with the rest of us tomorrow morning!

For the introduction video, click here.

For the daily quiet time videos, click here.

Invite your friends, family, and co-workers to join in. The website is

Pastor Noel

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Mornings...

Check out my new post at my other blog...

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Recent Tweets

My blog posts seem to be getting less and less frequent. I have begun using Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with the online church community more than my blog. Some people don't use those tools and consequently don't see those posts. So I will occasionally just list those in this space in addition to the occasional blog post.

Pastor Noel


Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it ... will do no good. Ps 127 ~ 5:55 AM Aug 5th

Same Scripture but different emphasis for Sunday message... New title: Final Warning: You Will Be Tested, I Will Help You... Rev 2:8-11 ~ 1:00 PM Aug 4th

Working on our prospect database.... noticed we have five people requesting to be baptized this Sunday.... Wow! ~ 12:50 AM Aug 4th

Good service and fellowship tonight with our team home from Kenya... ~ 8:30 PM Aug 2nd

Looking forward to being back in worship with my faith family... ~ 6:09 PM Aug 1st

Upcoming Message Series... ~ 9:15 AM Jul 31st

My 'son' in Kenya (Noel Junior) sent these keekoy's (sp?) to his 'sisters'... ~ 10:35 PM Jul 30th

I'm home... Long day, but good day... ~ 10:29 PM Jul 30th

About to leave church to make a visit, then go to a meeting, then if time, another visit, then back to study... is vacation really worth it? ~ 4:48 PM Jul 30th

Good news... Revelation 1:3 promises that that Lord will bless the person who reads the book of Revelation... ~ 7:48 AM Jul 30th

An early start... Trying to pack a week's worth of work into two days... ~ 3:42 AM Jul 30th

Just finished the book, Eat This Book, by Eugene Peterson... Didn't agree w/ everything but I learned much... I will read this book again... ~ 1:02 PM Jul 29th

Looking forward to tomorrow, my 14th Wedding Anniversary. My wife is the 2nd biggest blessing in my life and a daily source of joy to me! ~ 11:30 PM Jul 28th

Just finished the book, 'The Purity Principle' by Randy Alcorn... Every married couple should read this book twice a year! ~ 6:31 PM Jul 27th

Preparing a four week series from the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation... I'm looking forward to preaching again... ~ 3:11 PM Jul 27th

Back in the saddle this morning... ~ 6:36 AM Jul 27th

Is praying for a great, God honoring worship service this morning... ~ 5:40 AM Jul 26th

Sitting by the pool working on an outline on my laptop... ~ 1:38 PM Jul 25th

Friday, July 31, 2009

Upcoming Sunday Morning Messages

Beginning this Sunday I will preach a series of messages through the seven letters Jesus gave to the churches in the book of the Revelation. This is Christ's final warning to the church and to believers living in our day. I am looking forward to diving into this and seeing the changes God will bring in our lives and our church...

8/02 --- Final Warning: Don't Neglect the Passion (Rev 2:1-7)
8/09 --- Final Warning: Persevere through Persecution (Rev 2:8-11)
8/16 --- Final Warning: Don't Believe the Lies (Rev 2:12-29)
8/23 --- Final Warning: Hypocrisy is Poison (Rev 3:1-6)
8/30 --- Final Warning: Seize the Day (Rev 3:7-13)
9/06 --- Final Warning: The Final Warning (Rev 3:14-22)

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I just finished the book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen. It tells the story of what really happened at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, when two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Kiebold killed twelve students and one teacher and injured many more before committing suicide.

It was a very interesting book… more than you would think, though it is difficult to read because of the very offensive language.

There are many lessons to be learned from this tragic event. People involved in law enforcement, school administration, media, and those responsible for emergency response or security for a large facility should definitely read this book.

I’m not involved in any of those fields, so I read the book as a father of two pre-pre-teens and as a pastor. Here are some of the lessons I learned and a few truths that I was reminded of…

• Media reports of anything beyond the basic facts of a news event are mostly wrong! Most of what you know about the Columbine event is wrong: the background of the killers, the kind of people who were targeted, the motives, the events of the stand-off… With the Columbine tragedy certain wrong information was given by the media in the beginning and even when it was clearly shown to be wrong, the media stuck with it because it was more ‘interesting’ than the truth. It seems every time I am involved in a news event or have some knowledge of what really happened, I am amazed and surprised at how the newspaper reports differ from what really happened.

• Having a two parent home with a stay-at-home mother doesn’t guarantee your kids will turn out great. Parents need to be committed to being involved in their kid’s lives beyond just providing a stable home. Parenting must always be active; never passive.

• Parents should take seriously the warning signs of aberrant behavior. While much of the time there may not be reason for alarm, we should not operate from that assumption. I know from the few suicide cases I’ve been involved with that this truth is too often ignored.

• Having a relationship with Christ really does make a difference in the way we are able to handle tragedy. There really is a peace that passes understanding! The author, while definitely not writing from a Christian perspective, remarked at how very different the reactions were between the Christian parents and the non-Christian parents when the bad news started pouring in.

• In a tragedy, churches should focus on caring for and loving people not on aggressive outreach. The Holy Spirit will draw people to Christ. In the midst of a tragedy, our first response should be love in deed and in word. I believe in evangelism, but the message from the church to the world should be that we love you and Christ loves you, not that we want to take advantage of a difficult situation to ‘sign you up’. If a church doesn’t have a stronger witness and testimony in the community a year after the tragedy, then the church didn’t respond in the right way.

• It is never right to exaggerate or embellish a story to accomplish a good and noble purpose. Some of the great stories of Christian faith that could have come from this event have been lost because well meaning Christians encouraged or embraced known exaggerations, and when the embellishments were proved inaccurate, the whole story lost credibility. God will never bless an untruth, no matter our good intentions.

Pastor Noel

Monday, July 13, 2009


We had a great day of worship yesterday!

First, what a great morning of singing... the choir really showed out... the worship music was wonderful... In the last three weeks, Pastor Shawn has taken our worship time to a new level. I appreciate his hard work. I believe the Lord was truly honored yesterday morning in our service.

Our Patriotic Celebration last night was a big success. Good food... Great crowd... Super service! It was encouraging to see so many people come from our community join us for the celebration. Our choir did an exceptional job. I heard many good comments from a ton of visitors following the service.

Pastor Noel

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chafisi Orphan Ministry in Kenya

Well, we had another early morning Kenya meeting today... nobody should have to have a meeting at 5:00 a.m. The next time we partner with an international mission effort, we will partner with one west of us so that the meetings can be later in the day ;)...

So everyone wants to know... how are things going?

Good news! We have 42 orphans who all have uniforms, shoes, food, transportation, and paid tuition to school! We received a good report this morning concerning this ministry. I am thankful for all of you who make this ministry possible by your sacrificial giving, and I am thankful for the work of our four church members who have been in Kenya the past six months helping to facilitate this ministry. (By the way, if you would like to help us maintain this ministry or even help us minister to more orphans, contact the church and ask to speak with Carla. It costs us about $40 per month per orphan to provide this ministry. When you contact us, we can give you further details.)

The second piece of news is... our team in Kenya will be returning to Heath on July 22. They are coming back for a breather and to make preparations for a probable return in December. Pray for them as they travel and as they seek to get re-adjusted to living here.

Stay tuned for more updates in the days to come...

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pastor Fredrick Update III

I received an email a little after midnight last night that said pastor Fredrick had surgery at 10:00 pm Kenya time and is doing well. It didn't give any further details. I'm guessing that is good news.

Pastor Noel

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pastor Fredrick Update II

There has been a lot of confusion today about Pastor Fredrick's situation. He waited all day and they were unable to operate. It isn't clear why. Continue to pray...

Pastor Noel

Pastor Fredrick Update

Here is an email I received early this morning from our team on the ground in Kenya...

Pastor Fredrick is in surgery for appendix @ Kalifi Hop. @ 8 AM this morning. He was taken to Kalifi (was taken to Mombasa first for a good ct scan, then they sent him to Kalifi) the trip to Mombasa started between 10 and 11 pm last night, it was late before they got to Kalifi Hospital.
Mombasa is about one and half hours from here and Kalifi is 45 minutes from here. Mwatete said he will be in the hospital for five days. We will send updates.

Thank you for your prayers.
Your in Christ
John, Sandy, Lisa, and Greg

Monday, May 18, 2009

Congressman Pat Tiberi

In my previous blog, I noted that Congressman Space had agreed to meet with me for prayer in Washington this week. I also want to let you know that Congressman Pat Tiberi has agreed to meet with me this week for a time of prayer as well. I will be meeting with Congressman Tiberi this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. I am very much looking forward to meeting Congressman Tiberi. I am very thankful that he is the Representative from my district!

These two Congressmen, Tiberi and Space, lead the districts that include most of our church members. I submitted requests to our two Senators, and while initially I received confirmations from both of their offices, they have now informed me that they will be unable to meet with me due to scheduling difficulties.

The reason I am traveling to DC is to attend a special briefing for pastors where we will be informed about the behind the scenes status of issues and legislation that our church family and Christians everywhere are most concerned about.

This is a critical time in the history of our nation. This is a critical time for issues such as the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and the rights of parents. These are not merely political issues, these are spiritual issues... and biblical issues. Pray that our voice can be heard on these issues. Pray that our political leaders will have the godly wisdom necessary to make the right decisions concerning these issues.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Congressman Zack Space

I want to give credit where credit is due...

Congressman Zack Space's office just called to confirm that I could come by his office in D.C. next week to pray with him.*

I appreciate the opportunity. I believe we should all pray for all of our political leaders and I am thankful for those who will take time out of their busy schedules for something like this.

I look forward to praying the that the Lord add daily to the Congressman's wisdom, discernment, and courage. I look forward to praying for him personally, his health and his family. I look forward to praying that the Lord will always reveal Himself to the Congressman such that the Congressman will having a growing knowledge and appreciation of God's goodness and grace.

I ask that you pray for me as I pray for him on Thursday, May 21 at 4:15 p.m..

Pastor Noel

*...although they did also want to confirm that I just wanted to pray with him and not advocate any issues :). I wonder what would make them think I would have any policy issues to debate with the Congressman? Nonetheless, I will honor their request and his time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live FBC Heath Prayer Updates

If you want to see live FBC Heath prayer updates you can follow the twitter account 'noeldearprayer' or you can go to the website:

Pastor Noel

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday Preview

I am looking forward to this Sunday. We had such a good day of Worship last week... I'm praying this week will be the same.

I've had a good week of studying for my upcoming messages. In the 10:45 AM and the 6:30 PM services I will be continuing my series on the five most important days in history. We will be looking this week at the resurrection, which is by the way, the most important day.

We will focus on a verse in Philippians...

...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death... -- Philippians 3:10 NKJ

What is the "Power of the Resurrection"? The answer is exciting! Most people think of the resurrection simply as an historical event that can be believed or disbelieved. I want to show you that the resurrection of the Lord is something that makes a daily difference in life. The resurrection is truly a powerful event, and not in the way you are probably thinking, that should change and impact our lives every day in a couple of ways. Sunday, I will show you a Bible example of how this worked then, give a testimony of how it works today, and show you how to let it work in you.

I am more fired up about this truth than last week's truth as we focused on the crucifixion!


For our 5:00 PM Soma Kristou (family of God) service we will be in 2 Corinthians 1. In verse 3, Paul calls God the Father the God of all comfort. In the next few verses he elaborates on that truth. Many of you will be familiar with those verses, but the question is... what kind of comfort is Paul talking about?

When I think of comfort I usually think of a nice, plush recliner... or I think about a Saturday with nothing that has to be done... or I think about vacation at the beach... Most of us use the word 'comfort' to refer to 'ease'. As it turns out, this is not at all what Paul is talking about here.

Once we learn what biblical 'comfort' really is, we will see a whole new meaning to this familiar passage of Scripture... and encouraging meaning... a 'comforting' meaning...


For the Q&A time in the Soma Kristou service, I am going to address what Dave Wilkerson, a noted Christian leader, said when he recently predicted a terrible, violent calamity in America. It seems like more and more Christian leaders are making these kinds of predictions. What are we to think about this? Is this from the Lord or just an over-reaction to the hard times we are living in? What should be our response to these kinds of 'warnings'?

I'll attempt to give a thoughtful answer to that during our Q&A time on Sunday evening.


Be in prayer for Sunday... pray that lives will be changed... pray that the Lord will be honored...

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sobering Devotion

A part of my devotional reading this morning was 1 Samuel 15. This chapter talks about how Saul, the king of Israel, defeats his enemy in a decisive battle. But the story doesn't end there. God had given Saul specific instructions about what to do in and after the battle, but Saul decided to do it his own way. He was only partially obedient. Then along comes the prophet Samuel. Samuel confronts Saul about his partial obedience (read: rebellion). Saul then makes some pathetic excuses and put the blame on others. Samuel then gives that famous line... "To obey is better than sacrifice." He goes on to say, "Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft." The peculiar end of that chapter has the prophet Samuel chopping up king Agag (the king of the defeated people) into little pieces. You will just have to read and study for yourself to see the reason and the significance of that unusual act.

Altogether the chapter is about the seriousness of being only partially obedient...

My first thought as I was reading was, "I should preach on this!"

But then the Lord reminded me that my devotional readings were not meant to look for sermon fodder, they are an opportunity for me to hear from the Lord for ME.

Then I thought of some partial obedience in my life. I thought of some areas where I have been about 90% obedient and I have been smug about it. I think I have been guilty of using some of the same excuses that Saul used too. I need to be more diligent to obey. I need to 'hack Agag to pieces." (OK, it might take a message to explain that last sentence.)

The interesting thing though about king Saul is that while God was condemning him, everyone else was cheering him on. While God was confronting him about his sin, the crowd was complimenting him for his leadership and his skill at war making.

Sometimes we can look like heroes to the people around us and at the same time look like zeroes to God.

This last Sunday afternoon between church services, I went on a very long walk. As I was walking and praying, I felt like the Lord was impressing something on my heart... (those of you who know me know I hardly ever say something like that). I felt like the Lord was saying, "Be wary when people brag more on your abilities than they do on your character." That will give you pause for thought...

I wonder how many times we have been where Saul is? I wonder how many times we have been in a place in life where our abilities have surpassed our character? I wonder how many times we have looked better to people than we have to God? I wonder how many times those around us have been impressed with our partial obedience, while the Lord has been disappointed in our lack of obedience?

The Lord woke me up early today to ponder those questions for my life and walk...

I'm glad He did...

Pastor Noel

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

My favorite song (today)...

How Deep The Father's Love For Us -- Townsend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


listen here (it takes a while to buffer... it was the best source I could find...)


Pastor Noel

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Weekend...

It is an early morning at the church... a lot to do today...

I went to the drive through at Tim Hortons this morning and ordered a toasted bagel only to get to the office, open it up, and learn that they had toasted it so much it had turned into 'cinnamon and raisin charcoal'... Oh well...

I am looking forward to the next few days!

Tonight, my family and I are going to do a little Maunday Thursday service at our home. I want to help my girls really focus on the significance of what we commemorate in the next few days.

Tomorrow, we have an event at the church where Dr. David Ball will give a dramatic and multimedia presentation of the crucifixion of Christ. I think that is going to be a great night!

Sunday is resurrection day! We will have three services to accommodate the crowd... you can worship with us at 8:00 a.m., 10:45 a.m., or 6:30 p.m.. It will be the same service in each of these time slots. I hope having these time options will help you as you invite your friends, family, and neighbors to join us for this important day.

See you tomorrow night!

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Missions Teams Update

A quick update of the status of our Missions Teams...

  • Yesterday our Stowe Center team served in the soup kitchen of the mission we support in inner-city Columbus. Reports are that things went well.

  • I spoke with our missions team in Mississippi yesterday. They are helping to rebuild churches destroyed by hurricane Katrina. They told me that they are working this week on the church where Adrian Rogers got his start as a pastor. They will return to Ohio this weekend.

  • Our Kenya team is doing well. I hope to be able to speak with them by phone again this week. We will call them during our worship service this Sunday morning. Of course, Greg & Lisa are now there long term... John and Sandy were going to come back a few weeks ago but have now decided to stay on until mid August. I am contemplating going back in August myself. Let me know if you might be interested in going with me.

  • If you would like to help support Greg and Lisa while they are in Kenya, visit Greg's website: There you can view and purchase some of his great art work.
Pastor Noel

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's Monday!

We had a pretty good day yesterday. Good crowds in all of our services... Several first time visitors... A good number of decisions made in worship services...

A few people to thank...
  • Choir and Pastor Shawn for the great special just prior to the message in the 10:45 service.
  • The Hatfield family for preparing a great meal for our church wide fellowship honoring our recent new members.
  • The Dickover's for doing the coffee set-up for the 6:30 service.
  • The preschool choir for kicking off the 5:00 service.
I am looking forward to this week!
  • We've got a number of people already signed up for the new member's class on Wednesday at 6:30. (Give us a call if you would like to attend and are not yet on the list.)
  • Today I hope to spend a few hours doing some preparation for my Easter Sunday message and the two messages that will follow.
  • I have a few appointments this week with first time guests who have attended one of our services in the last couple of weeks.

Let me share with you something I read in my devotion time this morning...

Part of my reading was from Joshua 22.

In verses 9 & 10 we learn that the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh left the other Israelites after the war to return to their land on the other side of the Jordan river.

On their way, they built an altar to the Lord.

This bothered the other Israelites because they thought that these men were trying to establish a new place of worship in violation of God's commands.

So the other Israelites decided to wage war against those who had built the new altar.

Just before the war ensued, the leaders decided to sit down and talk. As it turned out, each group had misunderstood the intentions of the others. Once everything was aired out it turned out that everyone agreed on everything!

What a great lesson! I wonder how many 'wars' have been fought between believers simply because we have misunderstood the intentions of others and we have let our pride keep us from sitting down and having a frank and honest discussion.

I pray that I will always have a heart that desires to talk first...

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's A Small World Today

Yesterday I wrote a post about our friends heading to Ethiopia next week and then to Bolivia in a few months... This morning I got a phone call from Hui Chi Williams. She had gotten as far as Chicago in her mission trip to Korea. She just called to ask if everyone would continue to pray... This morning, I've also tried, unsuccessfully so far, to call our mission team in Kenya to go over arrangements for them to share with our church via a phone call in our Sunday morning worship time... I met with Henry Zigan this morning, and he was telling me that everything was a go for our mission trip to Mississippi next week... And later today, I will be talking with an old friend from Alabama who now leads some mission efforts in New Mexico about our church sending some families down there to minister with some of the Native American tribes he is working with...

It seems like a small world today.

Isn't it exciting to hear how the Lord is working through our church around the country and around the world! In one morning, I've now talked or emailed with people ministering in Ethiopia, Bolivia, Kenya, Korea, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

Our next mission celebration is May 3. We have some exciting things to announce then about how you can be a part of all of this in 2009-2010!

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mozombite Family

Those of you in our church here in Ohio may remember David and Amy Mozombite and their two kids. They were with us in a missions conference a few years ago and have since become friends.

They have an amazing story and have had an interesting 'addition' in the last few days. They have been pursuing adoption for some time and have recently been approved to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. Here you can see a video of their new son...

They will be leaving soon to go to Ethiopia to get Asher. They hope to be leaving sometime in the next few months to serve as missionaries in Bolivia.

If you would like to read more of their story, check out these blogs...

Pastor Noel

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prayer Requests...

Last week was a challenging week. It wasn't a bad week, just a challenging one. I had two very long days that I don't think I really ever recovered from, several counseling appointments a few of which were heart rending, one day trip to St. Louis, and a few distractions. Sunday was a good day. We had a good service in the morning; the deacons and I did our last day of one-at-a-time Lord's Suppers; and we had two good services in the evening.

I am looking forward to this week. It is starting off well. I got some very good news this morning that I believe is the Lord saying that this is going to be a good week of ministry, full steam ahead...

Here are some things to keep in your prayers...

  • I have prospect visits lined up for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Pray for these families.
  • Donna and the girls and I are praying about doing our first big family mission trip this Summer. We are going to try to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. Donna is working on passports right now, just in case.
  • So far this morning, we've had seven people sign up for our April 1 New Member's class! Pray that we will be able to make connections with all of those God is sending our way.
  • We have a leadership meeting (council) this Wednesday where we will be considering some upgrades to our youth ministry.
  • VBS meetings this week...
  • We are making the last preparations for publicizing our Easter services this year. We have a very special presentation the Friday before Easter, and then we will offer our Easter worship service three times on Sunday.
Thanks for the Prayers!
Pastor Noel

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quick Update...

It has been a week or so since I've posted, so here is a quick update of what has been going on...

  • In the past couple of weeks we've added six new members to our church in addition to six baptisms! It is great to see how God is working in people's lives and how our church has been able to be a part of that. It was also great to see the generations represented in the baptism time. Of the six we baptized the Sunday before last, one was in the 12-18 age group, one was in the 19-25 age group, two were in the 26-35 age group, and two were in the 60+ age group.
  • I was able to make three prospect visit appointments following the morning worship and the Sunday Extra Worship yesterday! Thank the Lord for the opportunities for ministry that He has set before us.
  • This coming Sunday will be the last day of our 'family at a time' Lord's Supper services. The original plan was to bring every interested family in one at a time for a time of prayer and worship through the Lord's Supper in one marathon day. Well, one day turned into two and now three. When it is all said and done I will have been able to pray with hundreds of people in family groups and share the Lord's Supper with them. This has turned into one the highlights of my ministry life.
  • Things are progressing with bringing Scott Parry in and up to speed as our new administrator and ministry director. Tomorrow will be focused solely on that. Scott and I will be spending the day consulting with another church that has made a similar transition.
  • Sunday Extra Worship... Last night was our second official week of our Sunday Extra Worship service (if you don't know, this is a repeat of our morning service that takes place on Sunday evenings at 6:30 in Harmon Hall). How is it going? So far, so good. Not counting children and children's workers, we had 48 in the service the first week and 58 in the service last night. We have several people who are completely new to our church attending. Keep on praying. Invite people you know who may be interested in a little more laid back service that takes place in the evening...
  • The five staff wives spent this past weekend together at a Beth Moore conference for pastor's wives in Nashville. Sounds like they had a great time. I hope you will keep them in your prayers. They play such an important role in our church and often make thankless sacrifices that few people know about. Praise the Lord for the character and sweet spirit that each of those ladies possess.

Pastor Noel

Friday, March 6, 2009

Anonymous Letter

I received an anonymous email this past Monday. I replied, and asked if I could share this on my blog. The author of the email gave me permission. I share the email here unedited.

I hope this will be an encouragement to others who may be dealing with similar problems. Both of the messages referred to in the email are available on our church website and at the CD/Book sales table in the main foyer.



I know you are a busy man so I will make this short. You had said that someone thought you may have gone too far in being careful with women (if I understand that right). I don't usually tell a pastor they are right or wrong but unfortunately, I'm well aware of this subject. You are absolutely right! I'm addicted to sex. It sounds funny but it's an accurate assessment of myself that has been verified by other sources. I purchased your "foundation" sermon and will refer to it for the rest of my life.

Today's sermon is a good addition to it. Not only being careful with women, but men with this weakness have to be careful with magazines (I mean the regular ones such as Newsweek, etc), billboards, commercials, the Internet, etc. As you know, sex sells and there are these "triggers" all over. I'm not over my addiction and will never be. With Jesus though, I can overcome it day by day. People sometimes see me as a strong person, drugs, booze, gambling, etc, will never be a problem for me but sex is. I'm married to a great person and have kids so am normal there but this addiction can rip a person apart unless it's controlled.

I just wanted to let you know that you hit the nail on the head with Foundation and thank you for having the courage to stand up and speak about it. You are truly a person of God!



The website where the message downloads are available is You can also search on "First Baptist Church of Heath Ohio" in the iTunes store to connect to the free podcast.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Church Staff Reorganization

Below is the letter I mentioned in the previous blog post....


Dear church family,

Last Sunday I was able to make a much anticipated announcement concerning a new reorganization of our church staff. Jeff Salyer, the leader of our church council, shared in the morning worship service about the goals and the procedure for this reorganization. In the 5:00 service, I shared some of the details and the benefits of this reorganization.

I am very excited about how this is going to benefit our church, impact our community, expand the kingdom of God, and bring honor to our Lord.

Let me briefly describe how the reorganization will work...

  • As senior pastor this reorganization will allow me to focus solely on the 4P's of pastoring. More on that in a moment.
  • Administrative pastor Wally McLaughlin is promoted to associate pastor. He will share leadership responsibilities with me, be the chief go-to person on matters of pastoral ministries, and he will lead our children's ministry.
  • Worship pastor Shawn Gierling and youth Pastor Troy Kirkpatrick will have largely the same responsibilities as they do today, but the reorganization will allow them to approach their ministries in a more effective manner.
  • Scott Parry will come on staff full-time in May to be our administrator and director of ministries. Scott will handle the financial, support staff, and physical plant administration of the church. More importantly, Scott will serve as the project manager for every ministry in the church.
Why are we making this change? What are the benefits to the church and to our ministries?

There are many benefits to this new plan. I believe this is going to help our church reach the next level of ministry and effectiveness. Briefly, here is what we believe this reorganization will provide...
  • We believe it will allow us to multiply the effectiveness of our pastors. It will do this in two ways. First, it will help by relieving the pastors of some of their administrative responsibilities so they can spend more time directly on ministry. Secondly, it will help the effectiveness of the pastors because we will be more organized, more proactive, and more purposeful in every ministry because of what Scott can help us with in terms of project management and ministry evaluation.
  • The new reorganization will allow me as the senior pastor to focus on what I believe the Lord has called me to do and how I can best benefit our church. I believe a pastor is most effective when he focuses on the 4P's...
  • Preaching... this reorganization will allow me to spend more time in the preparation of messages for our worship services.
  • Prayer... this reorganization will allow me to spend more time on the ministry of prayer and the word as is commanded in Acts 6.
  • People... this reorganization will allow me to spend more time with people. It will allow me to give greater emphasis to discipleship and leadership development.
  • Planning... this reorganization will allow me to spend more time developing long-term and strategic plans for our church.
  • Children's ministry will benefit greatly from this reorganization. I believe that the growth of our church is directly tied to the effectiveness of our children's ministry in the next few years. This reorganization essentially gives our church a full-time children's minister. I cannot wait to see how the Lord will bless us through this new emphasis in ministry.
  • There are many ministries in our church that will become more effective and more strategic now that we have a staff member, ministry director Scott Parry, to provide focus and accountability each step of the way.
  • I believe this reorganization will allow our church to continue to strive for excellence as we serve the Lord and serve our community.
There are still parts of this reorganization that will develop over time. It will take some time to implement all of the changes. I believe you will begin to see results from this change by the end of summer.

I hope you will pray for the wisdom and discernment of our church leaders, both the pastors and lay leaders. I hope you will pray for Scott and his family as they make the transition to our church staff. I hope you will pray that our church will be all that God desires for it to be in this community.

Thank you for letting me to serve as your pastor...

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Big Events...

The last half of this week's schedule is packed with events...

  • Tonight we have a 'New Member's Class'. We do this every four to six weeks. This is geared for new and prospective members of our church. It lasts about two hours. We have a great time in this class. We go over subjects like... 'how to be certain you are saved', 'what we believe', 'our church's mission and purpose', and 'the nuts and bolts of our church'. There is also a time to meet the church pastors and hear from them how they can minister to families in our church and community.
  • Upward Basketball Awards Night is Friday. We have a 6:00 and a 7:30 event to handle the crowd. We are expecting over 1,800 people to attend!
  • Sunday Extra Worship begins this Sunday evening at 6:30. This is our new worship service that we have been praying about for several months. As of this Sunday, worship times will be 10:45 a.m., 5:00 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.. The 10:45 and 6:30 services will have the same message.
That gives us much to pray for this week!

By the way, we have had very good response from our big announcement Sunday about our staff reorganization and the adding of Scott Parry to the staff. My plan is to write a letter describing these changes for the bulletin this week. If we are able to get that ready, I will also post it to my blog.

Pastor Noel

Monday, March 2, 2009

Christianity in Blue Jeans

This coming Sunday, in both our regular Sunday morning worship and in our Sunday Extra Worship we will begin a new series of messages from the book of James...

Christianity in Blue Jeans
Where Real Faith Meets Real Life

The book of James is a
No Nonsense look at what it means to be a Christian.

Too often, in our culture, Christianity has become some mysterious thing that takes place in a person’s heart. We often think of Christianity as a feeling or a philosophy... an experience or an event...

James understood that Christianity is not something that just happens in a person’s head, but also happens in a persons hands... and feet... and lifestyle.

This book has been called...

“The common man’s gospel”
“Rubber meets the Road Religion”
“The gospel in Overalls”

You will be surprised at how simple, straight-forward, and life changing these truths will be. If you listen closely; if you learn the principles of the book of James, you won’t just be smarter, you will be better!

Here are the questions we will learn the answers to as we study through the book...

03.08 How To Have Joy When Life Is Hard – James 1:2-4, 12

03.15 How To Really Live Obediently – James 1:13-25

03.22 How To Understand Why Some People’s Faith Fizzles – James 2:14-26

03.29 How To Make The Most Of Life – James 4:13-17

04.05 How To Pray A Prayer That Changes Things – James 5:13-18

I will be preaching each of these messages in both the 10:45 service and the 6:30 service each Sunday. In the 5:00 service we will be continuing our study of Spiritual Warfare from Ephesians.

Pastor Noel

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Study Retreat

Well, I'm in Greensboro, NC this morning heading back to Ohio after spending a great week getting away to do some studying. I am both exhausted and refreshed... and I am very much looking forward to tomorrow.

Let me say a giant thank you to my wife and girls for allowing me to be away from the family for seven days. This wasn't the easiest week for them for me to be gone. They are so supportive of me, though. I've got the greatest family in the world.

Also a big thanks to Pastor Wally, Pastor Shawn, and Pastor Troy for holding down the fort while I was away. Either everything went great while I was gone or they've done a good job of keeping anyone from calling me and telling me what went wrong. Either way is good. Thanks for all of your extra work.

I am thankful for a church that allows me to take a pause in my schedule like this and spend a week focused on the ministry of prayer and the Word.

Let me share with you what I was able to get done in a week's time...

I was able to have six extended, uninterrupted, unhurried devotional times of Bible reading and prayer. That was very refreshing!

I was able to read four books... One on writing (called "On Writing"), one on time management, one on how to better study and prepare, and one on apologetics. The last one I would recommend to you. It is called "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller. Keller is a pastor of a very large church in New York City. He spends a lot of time ministering to a crowd of people who have many intellectual and cultural objections to believing in Jesus Christ. In this book he shares how our faith can best be taught and defended in a modern culture.

I was also able to write 65 pages on a project that will form the basis for a sermon series in the Fall. As a church we will use this both as a sermon series and also in new member training. More to come...

This has been my most productive study week ever.


I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Four big events have got my motor running...

First, I will be preaching a message in the morning service on having margin in our lives and in our marriages. I have been looking forward to preaching this message for six weeks.

Second, we will be worshiping through the Lord's Supper in a very different way tomorrow. I've never done this before so I don't know for sure how it will go, but I am excited. During all of my time tomorrow when I'm not preaching (we will be having three worship services tomorrow, more on that in a moment), I will be leading in worship through the Lord's Supper in my study. I will meet with the church body, one family at a time, every seven minutes, for prayer and worship. I think the deacons have a great system worked out to make this a very special time for our church. Carla told me this week that so far we've got people signed up for every seven minutes until sometime past 9:00 p.m. It will be a long day, but I am looking forward to it. There are still slots available if your family hasn't signed up yet, but they are all after 9:00. We may do this again the following week to accommodate those we couldn't fit in this week, but I'm not sure. I'm trying to move some things around on my schedule to make it work.

Third, we will have a 'members only' preview of our new 'Sunday Extra Worship.' Beginning next week we will be re-doing our Sunday morning worship service on Sunday evenings after our regular Sunday evening service. I know that sounds complicated, you'll have to hear more as we talk about it at church tomorrow if you don't already know how it works. Our prayer is that this new service will do two things... First that it will help relieve the overcrowding in the morning service, and secondly that it will allow us to reach people we could never have reached before. We will be doing something special in the 'preview' tomorrow.

The fourth special thing tomorrow is a special announcement we will be making. I have been working with the leaders of our church for a few months on a special project that I think is going to be the key to our church reaching a new level in its outreach and its ministry. We have worked and prayed very hard to get this put together. Tomorrow we will be able to share the good news...

Well, I need to get on the road so I can see my family...

Pastor Noel

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick Update & Surprise

I just heard from our Mission team in Kenya... all is going well...

Interesting thing happened today...

I am going to be at a conference in Washington D.C. in May, so today I called the offices of Congressman Tiberi, Congressman Space, Senator Brown, and Senator Voinovich and asked if, as a representative of our church, I could have a brief time to sit with each legislator in his office to pray with him and for him. All four said, "Yes".

I am surprised and excited!

Pastor Noel

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kenya Team Update

I received this email from our team in Kenya about 10:00 this morning...

We have arrived safe and sound. We did have some interesting experiences along the way which we will explain later.

Pass this message on to Fritz and the kids.

Pastor Fredrick, John and Sandy, Toni, Greg and Lisa say Hi! It's in the mid 90's here and very dry.

We will correspond as soon as we get situated.

In Christ,
The team

I hope you will keep the team in your prayers. I will post updates as I get them.


I am really looking forward to tomorrow. I am preaching on a subject I've preached on many times, but I believe the Lord has given me a new insight and a new understanding to share tomorrow.


As some of you may know, Dave Smith, a very active member of our church died on Friday morning. Please keep his wife Linda in your prayers. It has been a very difficult week for her and the family.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday Extra Worship

We are still a month away from kicking off our new 'Sunday Extra Worship', but plans are in high gear...

Here is the most recent publicity piece we finished today...

The front and back of the card...



Here is a little of the room set-up. We are just running through some of the options so we will be prepared on 3/8. We still have some sound and video issues to solve.


Here is a mock up of a banner we are using (actually I think this is an early draft of the banner)...

Keep this in your prayers!

Pastor Noel

Monday, February 9, 2009


What a great night we had showing the movie FireProof! I don't have the final numbers yet this morning but I know we had well over 500 people come out for our little community cinema. Everyone I spoke with enjoyed the movie and many couples took advantage of the extended childcare to go out on a mini date following the movie. Donna and I went to Leghorns after the show and I recognized several of the couples there as people I had seen at the movie.

I heard so many good comments from people in our community. People were very thankful that our church did this and especially that we provided the extended childcare to allow those couples to spend some time discussing the movie after it was over.

Many people worked hard to make this happen, and I am thankful for them all... but two I want to mention... Mark Kifer was in charge of publicity, set-up, bookstore, and all of the logistics. We couldn't have done it without Mark.

Pastor Wally was in charge of the extended childcare. That was a challenge. We didn't know if we were going to have ten kids or one hundred kids. That isn't easy to plan for, especially when the childcare lasts four hours. When I picked up my kids, someone told me we had 114 kids in the family life center. I don't think that included the number of kids we had in the preschool area. Wow! Great job, Pastor Wally.

Very, very busy week upcoming. This would be a good week to put your pastor on the top of your prayer list.

Quick note about what the Lord taught me in my devotion time this morning...

I am in the middle of the book of Exodus in my reading right now. Exodus 25-28 is tedious to read. God is giving Moses very detailed instructions on how to build the tabernacle of worship, the furniture for the tabernacle, and the clothing for those serving in the tabernacle. For me it is very hard to read and stay focused. The detail seems meaningless to me and my personal life today. Here is a sampling...

"Make heavy sheets of cloth from goat hair to cover the Tabernacle. There must be eleven of these sheets, each forty-five feet long and six feet wide. All eleven of these sheets must be exactly the same size. Join five of these together into one set, and join the other six into a second set. The sixth sheet of the second set is to be doubled over at the entrance of the sacred tent. Put fifty loops along the edge of the last sheet in each set, and fasten them together with fifty bronze clasps. In this way, the two sets will become a single unit. An extra half sheet of this roof covering will be left to hang over the back of the Tabernacle, and the covering will hang down an extra eighteen inches on each side. -- Exodus 26:7-13 NLT

Why do I need to read all of this detail? And then it hit me... I need to see how carefully the Israelites prepared the tabernacle of old because it teaches me how carefully I should prepare my heart to be the tabernacle of God today. I need to be careful to remove sin from my life... I need to be carefully to be obedient to Scripture in my life...

Just as God was honored when the Israelites took special care to in the construction of the Tabernacle in their day, so He is honored when we do the same with our lives...

Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

Pastor Noel

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Daughter

Many of you have already seen the video on my wife's blog, but I wanted to show this off to anyone who hasn't seen it.

Hannah won a Reading Rainbow story contest and as a prize the Reading Rainbow people took her story, her reading the story and her drawings and made a short clip.


And yes I am a little concerned that my sweet little girl's first published writing is about a kid being disobedient, doing something dangerous, and then getting rewarded for it. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As I shared in a post a few days ago, Donna and I are going through a 'One Year Chronological Bible' in our morning devotions. Well we started about a week into 2009 and we are just now caught up with the right day. Finally.

So today I was reading in the book of Job and I ran across these verses...

If only there were a mediator who could bring us together, but there is none. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength. -- Job 9:33-35 NLT

There is a great deal of insight in Job's question. Isn't it great news that we do have a mediator!

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. -- 1 Timothy 2:5 NLT

It is in the book of Hebrews that the truth is expressed best...

That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. -- Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

Aren't you thankful that you can get up in the mornings and approach the God of the universe through the mediator Jesus Christ! Aren't you thankful that through Christ you can hear from God and He can hear from you! Aren't you thankful that you never have to feel as hopeless as Job felt!

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where is Global Warming When You Need It?

So they say our six degrees this morning will feel like a heat wave compared to the minus seven predicted for tomorrow morning?

That reminds me of a whole new set of things to be thankful for this morning...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Fashioned Enough To Pray

Do you think it really helps to pray for success as we begin new projects, new ministries, and even new days? For many people, I think that kind of prayer just seems like an old fashioned, childish, waste of time and energy. In fact, I sometimes hear and read of pastors who will poke fun at such a simplistic approach to life and prayer.

Well, I was reminded of the importance of that kind of prayer in my quiet time this morning. Donna decided a few days ago that she would like to read through the Bible in a year in her quiet times, so I decided to do it with her. We went out and bought a 'One Year Chronological Bible', and have been trying to catch up to the right date ever since. This morning I was reading in Genesis 24 where Abraham's servant has gone on a mission to find a wife for Isaac. Read what the servant says as he relays the story to Rebekah's family...

Genesis 24:42 NLT "So this afternoon when I came to the spring I prayed this prayer: 'O LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, please guide me in a special way.

In the next few verses, the servant details the event and how God answered the prayer.

So what am I doing this morning? I am asking the Lord for success in the things I hope to do this day and this week.

Pastor Noel

Friday, January 9, 2009

Some Things Can't Be Postponed

This morning I was reading in the last part of Acts 24. A roman leader named Felix had the apostle Paul as a prisoner. Felix and his wife would meet often with Paul because they were curious about the gospel. But after considering the possibility of making a decision repeatedly over a long period of time, Felix was replaced as the leader; the conversations with Paul ceased; and as far as we know, Felix never again came to the point where the gospel was presented and a decision encouraged.

The lesson from this is two fold. If you don't have a relationship with Christ, there is no better day for that to begin than today. Find a strong believer you are close to and ask him or her to help you become a child of God.

The other lesson involves us all. I wonder how many of us are postponing an important decision. We've thought about it; we've even prayed about it... But we know that now is the time to choose, to commit, to get started. Don't delay what you know the Lord wants you to do.


Well it is Friday!

I am hoping the weather doesn't get too bad with tomorrow being the first day of Upward and with our Sunday guest speaker flying into Columbus in the middle of the day.

This morning I am stuck at the house until 8:00 because Donna had something she had to do this morning. Once the day begins, I've got about one more hour of work to have my 1/18 morning message complete, I've got about five pastoral visits to make, and about one hour of work to do on the publicity for our new worship service we are beginning on March 8... then my todo list will be finished for the week!

If you don't have anything to do tomorrow, join us for an Upward Basketball game or two. To accommodate all of the teams, we are playing games at four different Saturday venues this year, but the best thing to do is to come down to our Family Life center. I think games start around 8:30 and go most of the day. In fact I think there are games there tonight as well. It will be a lot of fun.

I will see you Sunday! (and yes, we will have church in the snow)

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What is in You?

Take a look at this video... it is pretty good.

One Busy Day

Do you ever have days where you start out behind? This is one of those days.

I turned my alarm off this morning when I thought I had only snoozed it...

When I finally did get up and had my quiet time started, Hannah, my ten-year-old woke up vomiting...

I gave Hannah a cardboard box that was sitting near by so she would have something to throw-up in...

Donna tells me she was going to use that box for something. I look at her and tell her she can have it back in a minute. She gives me a look that could kill...

I have five appointments on the schedule today. And when there are five actually scheduled that means there will probably be twice that...

So... interesting day already and the sun hasn't even come up.

I did, however, have a good quiet time this morning. I ran across a verse that I feel led to memorize today. Read this verse in a few different Bible versions, with each one you see a little more of its meaning and emphasis...

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24 ESV

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.
Acts 20:24 NLT

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24 NKJ

Ordinarily I do my devotional reading from the NLT and my studying, memorizing, and preaching from the NKJ. But I am going through Acts in the ESV just to become more familiar with it. So it was in the ESV that the verse caught my attention and led me to look in the other Bibles. I will resist the temptation to write three or four paragraphs of preaching on this verse. You can apply it to your life as well as I can. Just read through it a few times in each version. I think it will encourage you today.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Upward Basketball

Something I'm praying about this morning...


That is something that doesn't often make it to my prayer list, but this week is the exception. Saturday will be the first day of Upward Basketball games. For the next eight Saturdays we will have hundreds of people come to our Family Life Center to watch basketball games. My prayer is that our church can show these people the love of Christ. My prayer is that somehow, while they are here to see a basketball game, we can be an encouragement to them in some meaningful way.

I am specially praying that we will have the opportunity over the next eight weeks to invite all of them to the new worship service we are adding in March.

Pray for the games... the kids... the coaches and refs... pray for the parents and families that come to watch... and pray that our church can be a real blessing to them such that we can make an impact in their lives.

Pastor Noel

Monday, January 5, 2009

More to Come...

There is a great deal to blog about this week...
  • The upcoming start of our new worship service we announced yesterday...
  • The special speaker and services planned for this coming Sunday...
  • New sermon series for our Morning worship and a new series for our Soma Kristou worship...

Maybe I can get to some of that today. But this morning let me just highlight a passage from today's devotional reading.

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. -- Acts 17:10-11 NKJ

We should all be more like the Bereans. I spent some time this morning praying through how I could be more like them in my personal devotion times and my personal Bible study times. I know how valuable God's Word is. My prayer is that I will have a growing desire and passion to study and live out His Word.

Pastor Noel

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Reasoning from the Scriptures

From my devotion reading this morning...

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NKJ

Well, that is what we will be doing in our morning worship service in a few hours. Pray that I will be able to clearly preach the Word this morning and that the Holy Spirit will use it to change lives.

Pastor Noel

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How To Know What Is Right

How do you know what is 'right'? The first answer that comes to the minds of most believers is, "You look to Scripture. If it is forbidden, then it is wrong. If not, then it is fine." That simple answer is sufficient much of the time, but not always.

What about doing something that is not forbidden in Scripture but really irks the conscience of another believer? Should we be sensitive to the views and sensitivities of other believers even when those views are not expressly supported in Scripture? Should I be sensitive to how others around me were raised and taught through the years?

There is not always a clear, black and white line when it comes to these kinds of issues. The wisest course of action is usually to be humble, and sensitive and ever-mindful of Philippians 2:3 (Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself).

In my quiet time today I read something that got me to thinking about this...

Acts 15:19-20 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

These are the words of James as he comments on what instructions should be given to the new gentile Christians. Does something seem strange about these instructions? Why were they told to abstain from things polluted by idols, from things strangled, and from blood? Is it a sin to partake of those things?

No, it is not a sin to partake of those things (and other Scripture passages confirm this). These instructions were given as a compromise. The Jewish believers wanted the gentiles to understand that they were saved by grace through faith, not by keeping the Jewish law. But they also wanted the Gentile believers to be sensitive to the way most Jewish believers lived (their lifestyle) and the way they were raised (their background).

There are a couple lessons here that I need to be reminded of often...

First, I need to be sensitive to the fact that some believers were raised with certain traditions and mores that I was not. I should be careful to not offend their sensitivities unnecessarily. I need to remember that it is not all about my rights; it is all about love.

Second, I need to remember that I was raised with certain traditions and I live a certain lifestyle that works for me. I shouldn't expect everyone to conform to my lifestyle and traditions. The model is not me, it is Scripture.


Pray for me, I've got a funeral today. Difficult situation.

I'm looking forward to worship tomorrow. If you want to read ahead, read and study through Psalm 1.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

I am looking forward to this Sunday. In our morning service we are going to focus on how to prepare for what God may choose to do in our lives in 2009. The Lord began laying this message on my heart back in the beginning of December. I am praying we have a great, life-changing, God-honoring day!

Sunday we will also take the wraps off one of two big changes in store for our church this year. A great deal of prayer, study, and consultation has gone into this decision. I look forward to sharing it with the church. And no I won't tell you ahead of time :).

Question: What is the most interesting or the most convicting or the most encouraging thing you've read in the Word in the last couple of days? The Lord can and will teach us wonderful things when we read the Bible consistently! If you are looking for something to commit to in 2009, a daily habit of Bible reading might be a pretty good idea.

Here is some of what I saw in my reading this morning. In Acts 10:34, Peter preaches a Gospel message to Gentiles. As you read through his message and get to Acts 10:44 you will then see that something happens that is very similar to what happened when Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 2. So what is the difference in the two stories aside from the fact that in one the audience was composed entirely of Jews and in the other the audience was Gentile?

One big difference... the message. Paul preached a different message to the Gentiles. He still talked about the gospel (sin, guilt, Jesus, crucifixion, resurrection) but he did so with a different narrative and a different emphasis. Why? Because he was talking to different people.

Lesson to learn: There are some things that never change, like the gospel and the role of the Holy Spirit. But beyond those essentials, we must tailor our presentation and our ministry to reach people, understanding that the people we are trying to reach may be very different and have very different ways of viewing the world...

Well, I will save my preaching to Sunday.

Have a happy New Year's Day.

Pastor Noel