Headlines from First Thoughts

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where do we go from the Festival of Faith @fbcknox? Through the wardrobe on the adventure blog

C.S. Lewis depicted the conversion of the Christian life like children entering the magical land of Narnia. The icy grip of sin melted away because of the bright light of Christ radiating through the lives of good and faithful sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. The passageway from this world to the next, according to Lewis, was like a wardrobe full of coats to wear in the new world. The children donned the coats, and they "came down to their heels and looked more like royal robes."

Over the past 6 weeks during the Fall Festival of Faith, we have been playing in the wardrobe. The robes are the virtues of the Christ-like character, cultivated and nourished through the worshiping life of the believer and practiced daily in the habits of living as God wants us to behave. God takes our mind, time, relationships, and experiences and restores us to the people he created us to be, good and faithful servants living the character of Christ.

Where do we go from here? That's really up to you. Mark Moeller has already been meeting with people interested in a new Bible study for empty nesters. College students will continue their Tuesday night Bible study led by Scott Erwin. Others have made personal decisions that shape life forever. I look forward to seeing other fruit that is cultivated. Let me offer a few suggestions for the coming days.

1.) Share the experience. As you return to your routines, share testimonies in Sunday School of what the Festival of Faith meant to you. One of the best ways we find meaning from the Festival is through hearing each other's stories in the days ahead.

2.) Pray to want what God wants, not for Encore. The easiest prayer to pray is, "God, do it again." The harder prayer to pray is, "Lord, I want what you want." We love for God to repeat himself, but he asks us to live into the now in our world. The way we do that is by wrestling with the question every day, "Do I want what God wants for me?"

3.) Find some accountability. You will be reading and hearing more about Monvee, an online accountability for individuals. Even if you're not handy with the computer, find someone to help you carry the burdens and live into the restored you.

4.) Cultivate new habits. It takes about 21 days or so consistently to develop new habits, but we cultivate those through regular diet and exercise. Decide ahead of time how you will live the fruits of the spirit, and choose one person, relationship, or office where you will practice those virtues.

5.) Plan for a reunion. You've studied the Bible with another class or met together in a small group with new people. Now plan to get together again in a few weeks for fellowship. Sustain the new relationships in the body of Christ with the one thing that brings Baptists together: food.

6.) Keep worship a priority. My prayer has been that we'll recommit to the worshiping life of the church. This is the garden where the soil of First Baptist is watered and fertilized.

7.) Celebrate forgetfulness. Dallas Willard once said that we know we're getting somewhere in the Christian life when we look back and realize that we have not thought about a bad habit, person, or grudge for a long time. With hindsight we recognize that our minds and lives have moved on. Give thanks when you realize what you no longer think about. The character of Christ is taking shape.

8.) Fill out the Next Step form. Already, 81 people have taken another step in the conversion of the Christian life. This form suggests just a few ways you can make that a reality at First Baptist.

When the children decided to move from the wardrobe into Narnia wearing their robes, Lucy innocently remarked, "We can pretend we are Arctic explorers." Older brother Peter responded, "This is going to be exciting enough without pretending." And so the adventure continues.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's Your Next Step? Take yours @fbcknox Sept. 26

September 26 is "Next Step Sunday.” On the journey of the Christian life, we do not arrive until the very end. But we do change one step at a time. During the Festival of Faith we have been restored and renewed by the living water of Christ. On September 26, I'm inviting you to make one of three decisions as part of your next step on the journey: Believe, Belong, or Become.

Believe in Jesus. This is the first step for those who have never said “yes” to God's invitation through Christ Jesus. This decision says yes to Christ and requests baptism as a member of First Baptist. Many parents wait until their children are ready to take this step so that they can share the waters of baptism with family. Others have been wrestling with the decision of public faith for a long time.

Belong to First Baptist. Many people attend church for a long time without identifying publicly as a member. You can choose to join First Baptist by transferring your membership from another congregation or by stating your faith publicly in Christ and planting your life in the church membership.

Become a faithful disciple. If you already believe and belong, you are becoming a faithful disciple. This decision could be a recommitment to worship and Bible study attendance. The Festival offers many suggestions to grow deeper as a follower of Christ through our church. Each one fits one of the five areas of the church’s Strategic Plan: Fellowship, Outreach, Mission/Ministry, Worship, and Education. Some of these are new initiatives the church’s ministry councils are planning for 2011. No person can do everything, but everyone can choose one thing that will help them take the next step as a growing disciple.

To confirm the decision, we're providing a “Next Step” form . Below, you will find a description of some of the new ministries for 2011. Please read over the form, pray about your commitments, and fill it out. The most important section of the form is “other.” What next step is Christ asking you to take that may not even be on the form? We want to share this joy with you and pray with you through this process. If you can’t decide what the next step is, a minister will be glad to contact you to help discern the next step. After you fill it out, bring the form with you on Sunday, September 26, and place it in one of the boxes after worship. If you will be unable to join us that day, drop this in the mail or fill out the form online.

I hope you will join me in taking the Next Step to become the church God has created us to be.

Next Step Commitments (coming in 2011)

Social media team uses Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs to build relationships for Christ. People who regularly use these programs will enjoy this process.
The “Welcome Wagon” will reach new residents in East Tennessee. Volunteers are needed to design and distribute this information.

Restoration House is a home for one (1) single mother and her children. We are partnering with Fellowship Church, Cedar Springs Presbyterian, and Central Baptist Bearden, and many others in this ministry. Volunteers will be needed to mentor and support this family.

Community garden will be planted in the South Knoxville community in partnership with Operation Inasmuch, Habitat for Humanity, and the Missions Council. Volunteers will be needed to plant and tend the garden in our neighborhood near South Knoxville Elementary School.

New Initiatives

Move Downtown and join the neighborhood. Downtown Knoxville is alive with new residents and opportunities to live among the largest un-churched population in our community. Relocate your life, neighbor the community, and share the gospel.

Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered ministry to help people recover from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Our Pastoral Counselor, David Lovett is exploring this ministry.

For more information about these and other items on the response form, just check the box, “Ask a minister or deacon to contact me.”

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