November 1st, 2019

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Our culture does not embrace weakness. It seems that this trait will make you appear to be someone who cannot handle life’s problems. Our society thinks that people will walk all over you if you are weak. Where as God says it is in our weakness He will be glorified. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Weakness keeps us from boasting. God’s desire for us is to empty ourselves of pride. Weakness keeps us depending on God. Our insufficiencies keep us at the throne of Grace. “The more we are able to acknowledge our weakness, the greater our opportunity to experience God’s power in our lives.” (Kyle Idleman in the book, Grace is Greater.)
The strategy Jesus used to select His disciples shows that the power of God is best when people he chose were weak. He did not choose the influential and most powerful people of the day for spreading the gospel. The disciples were not the spiritual elite. They were uneducated, common, and from the low class of that time. Seven of the apostles were fisherman, one who wanted to overthrow Rome, a tax collector, who the Jews thought was a traitor, and the rest were tradesman of the time. He chose them because His power was to be made perfect in their weakness so that the outcome of their efforts would be credited to HIM and not to the individuals. They received the best seminary education possible by the master.
Jesus chose them because the power of the Holy Spirit will be seen in their service. They were willing to be open vessels for Jesus to work through. They changed the world. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak
only together with us would they be made perfect.” This exemplifies God’s power by the way men and women of faith have endured. Now they are an encouragement to us in our daily walk.
The ultimate purpose of God in our weakness is to glorify the kind of power that moved Christ to the cross and kept Him there until the work of love was done.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25, “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” It is the wisdom of God.
We may not understand why we have weakness, but we know God can use it for His glory and our reward is eternity with Him and share HIS GLORY.
Hope you are looking forward to Thanksgiving and to being grateful for our family in Christ.
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker
 

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October 1st, 2019

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
 
What is the “grace of giving” (2 Cor. 8:7)? Pastor and author Gene Getz points out how the Macedonians exhibited the grace of giving in a way that was spontaneos, eager, and sacrificial. “Nowhere in the Scriptures are Christians commanded to give away what is absolutely necessary for their existence. But the believers in Macedonia gave anyway. There was no coercion… They were eager to help meet other Christian’s material needs … But a more significant reason than human need prompted this sacrificial generosity. They gave “themselves first to the Lord”–which is the larger context in which Christians are to use their material possessions. It involves, first of all presenting our bodies as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” (Romans 12:1)
Getz points out that Paul encouraged the quality of gracious giving as a sign of the believers’ maturity in the body of Christ. When the Corinthians were converted to Christ, they were given abundance of “grace gifts” (see 1 Corinthians 1:4-5,7). However, as Paul enumerated the ways in which this grace was manifested–”in faith, in speech, in knowledge”–he broadened the concept beyond spiritual gifts. He referred to complete earnestness and love (2 Cor. 8:7), qualities that are comprehensive and reflect spiritual maturity among all members of the body of Christ. In other words, Paul wasn’t simply referring to a spiritual gift of giving bestowed on certain acoustical accordion doors. Men’s bathroom update progress: installing new vanity and water heater. New parking lot resurfacing – waiting on weather conditions suitable for oil and chip. Railing on SW entrance is still needed. Purchase of concrete planters for $900 (for two) plus masonry work approved by consensus.
Team is waiting on estimates for the youth house soffit repair. Ed Miller would like to see a “Cleanliness Policy” established for the new bus.
Special Events: 150th Anniversary – commemorative paper fans to place in the pews have been purchased. We need candy donations and a vehicle to pull trailer for the Apple Festival float – announce in bulletin. 150th Commemorative ornaments will be available for purchase for $8-10. Katina LaForge will be the guest speaker for the 150th Saturday evening dinner.
Worship and Ministry Team: Mission Sunday will be on 8/25 with presentations from camps and mission trip.
Nominating Team: We still need 2 more people to serve on the Leadership Council.
Deacon Care Team still needs 3 more people.
Pastor’s Report: Pastor Shaker Samuel has been asked to speak at Rainbow Acres in Arizona, an ABC ministries camp, September 6-9.
Baptisms are being planned. Pastor Samuel would like to see the men’s group weekly Bible Study revived.
The next Leadership Council meeting will be 9/17 at 6:00 p.m. individuals in the Corinthian church (see also Romans 12:6-8). He was exhorting the members to grow in the spiritual quality all believers must develop if they’re going to remain in the will of God.
This story from stewardship theologian T. A. Kantonen (1900-1993) illustrates that quality, the grace of giving.
In a seminar on Christian social ethics we were discussing the use of money when Dr. Otto A. Piper, then a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, told us this incident from his post-war work of collecting funds for the relief of the needy in German universities. Dr. Piper described to a group of Princeton students the conditions of abject poverty in which German students were struggling and asked his hearers to do what they could to help. The next morning a young married couple, both graduate students, came into Dr. Piper’s office, placed three hundred dollars on his desk and said, We heard your talk last night. We have talked it over, and this is our answer to your appeal.” He was astonished at the generosity of the gift and said, “are you sure you can afford this much?” They replied … “We have saved this money to buy some things that we need… But … God has been so good to us and we can get along. Those people in Germany need this money more than we do.”
(Taken from the Stewardship Study Bible; pg. 1522; copyright 2009 by Stewardship Council; published by Zondervan)
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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September 1st, 2019

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. Know
that the Lord is God. It is he who made
us, and we are his; we are his people, the
sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with
thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his
love endures forever; his
faithfulness continues through
all generations.” -Psalm 100
We are aware of our
upcoming 150th Anniversary
of our church. Celebration is
central to this joyful occasion.
We need to have a great
sense of thanksgiving to our
God.
None of us were here when
the church was started but we are here
today because of their willingness to be a
community of believers who wanted to be
grateful for God’s mercy and grace.
Our church was organized on June 27th,
1869 with approximately sixty members. The
Sunday school was organized in 1876. So
was our humble beginning. It is proper to
celebrate their ways the Lord has blessed our church.
These blessings are not the only reason that we celebrate our anniversary. The Psalmist reminds us that we celebrate not only because of what has been done, but also because of who God is. The scripture says, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We celebrate the greatness of God. The prophet Jeremiah declares in Chapter 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Yes, to God we are chosen people and we have worshiped and served HIM faithfully for the last 150 years. Our God is a loving God. What a reason to celebrate.! We have a rich tradition of reaching people for Jesus Christ, and meeting the needs of the community and be part of the community. We have witnessed many changes through the years. Since the church’s founding in 1869, our country has had many presidents, has seen ups and downs as a society, countless advances in technology and many other things. 
Through this passage of time, there is one thing that has not changed and it has stood the test of time–that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel, Bible, the word of God is the same. Malachi 3:6 states “I am the Lord, I do not change…” We are part of something much bigger and goes back much futher in time. We are right to remember the past and to honor all of the many good people who have come through these doors (too numerous to name) before us and their contribution to this church and to this community. Hundred and fifty years is a long time…our work here is not done. I hope you are as excited as I am about the celebration and join the team which is working hard to set the tone for another hundred and fifty years. Psalm 100:5 says “for the Lord is good and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.” The corner stone of the building reads, “The word of the Lord endureth forever.” 1 Peter 1:25. It is our prayer that the First Baptist Church of Murphsyboro will continue to endure to proclaim Jesus Christ is the only Lord and Savior until He comes. Please join with me to looking forward to the celebration October 19th and 20th, 2019. God Bless, Pastor Shaker (P.S. If you need a copy of our history, please feel free to get one at the church office.) (continued from page 1 trips. College Discipleship: ▫ Small group has been meeting regularly. ▫ Supporting the mission trip by purchasing a laptop for a college student there. Tech Report: Dave Brooks is training new volunteers for slides, lighting, and sound. ▫ Bradley Evans is working on how to fix the television for the cry room and live-streaming for services. Pastor’s Report: Jake Hahnemann will be speaking on 8/4 in Shaker Samuel’s absence. The next Leadership Council meeting will be 8/20 at 6:00 p.m.

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August 1st, 2019

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” -Ephesians 4:1-6 First, you can tell a church where the Spirit of God is in control by its unity – by its unity. The Spirit is the spirit of unity, Ephesians 4. And where there is a loving unity, where there is a unity without crushing individuality, the Spirit of God is in control. He seeks unity. Secondly, you can tell an assembly where the Spirit of God is in control by its fellowship. Its fellowship will be both deep, that is honest and intimate and real, and wide that is inclusive of anybody who cares and who comes and who is a part. Thirdly, you can always tell an assembly where the Spirit of God controls by its worship. It will be one that worships God really, genuinely, honestly; and its worship will be shared by all. In other words, they
will come to honor God; they will come to honor Christ; they will speak in honor of the Holy Spirit. They will praise God; they will sing praise; they will live praise; they will talk praise. Fourthly, you can tell a church that is controlled by the Holy Spirit by its evangelism. The Holy Spirit has come to point us to Christ. The Holy Spirit is the one who declares Christ, and in a church where the Spirit of God controls, Christ will be being declared. And evangelism will be spontaneous. It will be top priority. It will be natural outflow in the lives of the people who make up that assembly. Fifthly, you can tell a church where the Spirit of God is in control by its love. It will be an assembly of people who care about each other, an assembly of people controlled by the attitude of selflessness, where real love works, where sacrifice is a given. Sixthly, you can tell a church where the Spirit of God controls by its obedience. It will be a church that will be walking in the path that the Word of God prescribes. It will be a church where spontaneous obedience is the pattern of life, where all that ever needs to be said is this is what the Bible says, and response is immediate
the next business meeting. Carol Brown and Sue Lynn Johnson requested to landscape and maintain a small area in the church lot. Special Events: The 150th Anniversary Team will be producing video interviews of church members. Chris Deshazo is printing the outside banners. Volunteers are needed to work on the Anniversary float for the Apple Festival parade. College Discipleship: Group will be starting a video series on Mark. Strategic Planning & Action: The team met on June 4. They will be researching church growth, leadership structure, possible constitutional changes, and development of a 5-year plan. Nominating Team: We still need 2 more people to serve on the Leadership Council. Deacon Care Team still needs 3 more members. Tech Report: The Bose speaker power stand is not working. Dave Brooks will find out if it can be repaired or will have to be replaced. Pastor’s Report: The next Baptism class is in the works. Family Pastor’s Report: See Youth and Children’s reports above. The next Leadership Council meeting will be July 16 at 6:00 p.m. Trimester Business Meeting June 23 after
worship service.
Seventh, and tied right with that one, in a church where the Spirit of God controls, there will be people who are submitted to the Lordship of Christ. There will be people submitted to the Lordship of Christ. He will rule and they will lovingly, joyously, willingly submit to that rule. Eighth, you can always tell a church filled with the Spirit because there will be ministry – ministry. There will be saints interchanging spiritual gifts. There will be not just a professional pulpit, not just hired practitioners, and pastors and teachers and ministers, but there will be the mass of the community of believers ministering their spiritual gifts. The above article is taken from a sermon by John McCarther, pastor of the Grace Church in Panorama City, California. It says so well how a church ought to be. My desire is that as a community of believers we can be filled with the Spirit of God to be a model to the community in which we live. My hope is we will strive to become this edifying church. I hope you are having a wonderful summer with your families.
God bless In Christ’s steps, Shaker

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July 1st, 2019

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” -James 4:14
Several years ago a university student asked Billy Graham, “What has been the biggest surprise in his life?” Immediately he answered, “the briefness of life.” Almost before we know it, the years have passed and life is almost over. We do not often stop and think about life moving fast. We always assume and make plans to do things one after the other. We are busy, our calendars are full. We may not say it but live life like we are going to live forever. James challenges us with the above scripture. What have we done that will leave a legacy for Christ. A few days ago I dropped off Nic and Hannah at the airport. They were on their way to Florida for camp. Five hours later I received a call from Hannah. She said, “Daddy I miss you.” This is what went through my mind when she is at home. I tease her all the time but somewhere during those times she learned daddy loves her and when she doesn’t see me–she misses me. The thought was profound to me. With a little fun daily interaction there was an impression made that I loved her and cared for her. I carry that thought with me. Maybe my brief life will make a difference to someone. Yes life is short–but before us is eternity. What am I contributing to the love and life Jesus Christ gave me? Let us not live as if life will continue forever. It will not. Live instead with eternity in view. James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” The Bible says that when we know what to do and not do it, it is sin. When we know that we need to share our faith and not tell others about Jesus we could fall into sin. (continues on page 9) YOUR LEGACY…GOD’S GLORY JULY 2019 BAPTIES NEWSLETTER FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MURPHYSBORO 401 NORTH FIFTEENTH STREET MURPHYSBORO, ILLINOIS 62966 WWW.FBCMURPHY.ORG SHAKER SAMUEL, PASTOR KAY REIMAN, EDITOR CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED FBC Kids Monday Fun Day 5 years old – 5th grade 12 – 4:00 pm Monday July 8, 15, & 22 (continues from Pastor on page 1) This is where our influence comes in, because we are influencing people around us knowingly or unknowingly, why not use it for God’s glory. God is constantly asking who is going to tell them, Isaiah 6:8 reads, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah stepped up. Are we willing? Psalm 126:6, “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” will return with joy. C.S. Lewis pointed out “Joy is serious business in heaven!” Jesus said (luke 15:7) there is joy in heaven over every sinner who comes to repentance. God goes out of his way to find the most unlikely candidates to accomplish HIS devine purposes. There were several Bible characters who gave excuses. Think of Moses, who when called by God to speak for Him, he said “I can’t, I have a speech impediment.” (Exodus 4:10). Jeremiah felt he was too young (Jeremiah 1:6). Think also of those that God used who had challenges and failures in life. Noah got drunk, Abraham was old, Jacob was a liar, and David has an affair. Peter denied Christ, the disciples fell asleep while praying and Lazarus was dead. (This was taken from the book Tell Someone by Greg Laurie.) What is your excuse? You could say I’m not qualified, I’m not gifted or talented, or I do not know enough scripture. Guess what, those are the people God is looking for because when something amazing happens through you God gets the glory as He should. The Bible says it is in our weakness God is glorified. Remember we are “blessed to be a blessing.” Hannah calls me every night to tell me she misses me and loves me. Her earthly daddy is overjoyed. Now image how God would feel. Have a blessed summer. Don’t get sun burned…don’t forget the sun tan lotion. God Bless, Pastor Shaker

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June 1st, 2019

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” Titus 2:11
 
Lately God is showing me how grate- ful I need to be for all the blessings we receive. It is the grace of God. We often talk about the topic of grace but it seems so elusive to describe it. Grace simply stated, is the unmerited favor of God. Our salvation is through grace Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Faith does not only believe that God can save the world, it believes that God, based upon His promise in HIS word, applies that for- giveness to our lives. Titus 2:11 says, “the grace of God that brings salvation…” Grace of God is not something that is hidden or something that is obscure… that we need to search for and hope we might discover it. It has been revealed. In 2 Timothy 1:9 it says, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” God saved us, called us because of grace.
God’s grace is extended to every one of us. We need to reach out to receive the gift. It can never be achieved–it can only be received. One does not earn it or qualify for it. IT IS A FREE GIFT. Let us read some points of what grace is… + Grace acknowledges the full implication of sin and yet does not condemn. + Grace is never just enough, grace is always far more than enough. + God’s expressions of grace are innumerable, His requirements are minimal. + From the very beginning God has responded to the sin of humanity with amazing grace. + God chose to extend grace to a graceless world because of His love. “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, ”and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:23-24 + The right standing with God comes through faith in the promises of God. + The presence of grace means that sometimes we don’t get the consequences we deserve

+ Grace is not reserved for good people–grace underscores the goodness of God. + God initiated a relationship with His people before He even told them what the rules were–Grace. + The law of God is an expression of his grace. + Discipline is often an expression of grace. + God’s discipline is not a payback but to bring us back. + Receiving grace is often easier than giving grace. + Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self-righteous. + Grace fills the gaps created by our sin or others. Grace allows us to honestly face our past without being controlled by it. The topic of grace of God is inexhaustible. Let us continue to explore it and be blessed by it. Hope you will have a blessed summer–be safe and enjoy the family. God bless, Pastor Shaker 

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May 1st, 2019

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and posses- sions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
 

 
God has many wonders for our church in the near future but I found Rainer’s article so very interesting and want to share it with you.

“Many Churches Are Dying” From the Blog By Thom Rainer

Some are so sick that they are a few years, perhaps just months, from death. But too many refuse to do anything. Any potential and dramatic turnaround will not take place because these churches do nothing.

Why? Why do these dying churches walk resolutely down the path of death? Why don’t they attempt something dramatic, something bold? I have worked with too many of these churches. Allow me to share six common responses to these questions.

1. They refuse to admit they are sick, very sick. I have worked with churches whose attendance has declined by over 80 percent. They have no gospel witness in the community. They have not seen a person come to Christ in two decades. But they say they are fine. They say nothing is wrong.

2. They are still waiting on the “magic bullet” pastor. They reason, if only we could find the right pastor, we would be

fine. But they bring in pastor after pastor. Each leaves after a short-term stint, frustrated that the congregation was so entrenched in its ways. So the church starts the search again for the magic bullet pastor.

3. They fail to accept responsibility. I recently met with the remaining members of a dying church. Their plight was the community’s fault. Those people should be coming to their church. It was the previous five pastors’ fault. Or it was the fault of culture. If everything returned to the Bible belt mentality of decades earlier, we would be fine.

4. They are not willing to change…at all. A friend asked me to meet with the remain- ing members of a dying church. These members were giddy with excitement. They viewed me as the great salvific hope for their congregation. But my blunt assessment was not pleasing to them, especially when I talked about change. Finally, one member asked if they would have to look at the words of a hymn on a screen instead of a hymnal if they made changes. I stood in stunned silence, and soon walked away from the church that would close its doors six months later.

5. Their “solutions” are all inwardly focused. They don’t want to talk about reach- ing the ethnically changing community. They want to know how they can make church more comfortable and palatable for the remnant of members.

6. They desire to return to 1985. Or 1972. Or 1965. Or 1959. Those were the good old days. If we could just do church like we did then, everything would be fine. These churches are increasing in number. Culture indeed has little patience with a me- focused congregation, much less so than, say, 15 years ago.

Is there hope for these churches? Will these dying congregations indeed die? I have seen God intervene a few times in such situations. But, in every case, the church has turned its face to Him, and forsaken all of their own preferences, desires and human-centered traditions.

But most dying churches will die.

I pray that your church, if it is indeed on the path to death, will be the rare exception, to the glory of God.

The above article should energize us and take us to our knees. Please pray FBC will continue to seek His will in all of our ministries and keep Christ’s commission at the forefront in all we do.

I am looking forward to the many things we will be doing this May, please be a part

of it!

God Bless, Pastor Shaker
 

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April 1st, 2019

“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

How does Jesus look at a Church? Paul in 1 Thessalonians gives us a pattern for a church.
 
A church is a place where people know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Our objective is to find people who are in need of the love and reconciliation through the saving blood of Jesus and share our experiences.
 
God wants a surrendered church, committed people. Thessalonians were not people who talked about it, but they were imitators. They did not just talk about their Christian experience, they lived it. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” In Ephesians once again Paul says, “Follow God’s example.”
 
The church was committed to one thing “Christ-likeness.” They were committed to being like Jesus, not to another individual with shortcomings.
 
A. W. Tozer said, “If you have a hundred pianos you want to tune and you start tuning one to the other, what a mess. But if you have a tuning fork, tune all the pianos to that one tuning fork, and they’ll automatically be tuned to each other.”
Paul says the Thessalonians’ church didn’t have it easy because Satan was not too pleased so he brought dissension. When a church that is saved and surrenders to imitating Christ, it is going to antagonize the world. There is going to be suffering but it will have the Holy Spirit to help it through its suffering.
 
The Thessalonian church was also a soul winning church–Thessalonians 1:6-8, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it.” Paul says because of your actions, people are talking about you everywhere I go. What a testimony for a church.
 
Heine, the German philosopher, once said, “You show me your redeemed life, and I might believe in your redeemer.”
 
The world saw such exemplary lives and dramatic transformation in their character, the world could not believe it. It created a platform for the church to go proclaim the power of God’s word.
 
The Thessalonian church was a saved, surrendered, suffering, soul winning church but they did not stop there. They also talked about the second coming of Christ. The Lord wants us to remind the world that He is coming again. But this time as a King and Judge of the world.
 
How does Jesus look at our church? A saved, surrendered, suffering, soul winning and looking forward to HIS second coming or otherwise? It is something to think about.
 
My desire is to be like the Thessalonian church, vibrant, enthusiastic, joy overflowing and others looking at us and saying we can see Jesus in full glory. “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” 2 Peter 3:14.
 
Have a wonderful spring, enjoy all the blessings God has given us and be grateful for His mercy.
 
God bless,
Pastor Shaker

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March 1st, 2019

We take great pleasure and feel blessed that Jake Hahnemann has taken the position of Family Pastor here at First Baptist.  He will begin his ministry on March 1st.

Jake grew up in Wisconsin where in the third grade he received his first Bible and that is when he had first thoughts of becoming a pastor.

After high school, Jake attended Greenville University where he studied music and
in 2014 received a Bachelors of Science in Worship Arts.  It is also where he met Hannah, his wife. 

Jake has experienced, coordinated, and used his leadership skills in ministries such as worship, music, small groups, youth, community outreach, discipleship, and counseling.  He loves music–plays the guitar, bass, drums, piano, trombone and enjoys writing and recording his own music. His favorite worship album is Shane and Shane: Psalms 2. 

He is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hannah and Jake will soon be married 5 years and earlier in their marriage, they traveled around the country in a camper with a ministry doing outreach to carnival workers.  Hannah’s family lives in Anna, Illinois.  They have two beautiful children, Emma, almost 3 years old and James 3 months old.

Right now Jake’s favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

We welcome the Hahnemann family to the FBC Family of Faith.  Please pray for them as they move and transition to Murphysboro.

I love the church. She is Christ’s bride and the key to cultural transformation. In that sense, every church is great. But let’s be honest, there are a ton of churches that leave much to be desired when it comes to truly making a difference in their congregations and communities. So, when you plug into a church that is getting it done, it’s a true blessing.
 
Of course there are no perfect churches, but there are many that are pressing toward the high water mark we see in Scripture.
Here are 10 signs you may be going to a great local church :

1.  It is led by a team of godly leaders not a Lone Ranger pastor who gathers Tonto-type leaders around him to say “Yes, Kemo Sabe” to his each and every idea (Titus 1:5 -9 ) .

2.  The Gospel is central to every sermon, program and meeting (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).

3.  People are using their spiritual gifts not just watching the “stage team” exercise theirs (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

4.  It, like the early church, is integrated, fully representing the demographic of the community in which it resides (Ephesians 2:11-21 ). By the way, my buddy Derwin Gray has a lot of great material (blogs, sermons, etc.) on this particular point.

5.  Love, demonstrating itself in friendliness, generosity, internal/external care programs and community involvement, dominates the atmosphere ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 ).

6.  Most likely there is a thriving small group program where members truly can have great biblical conversations, share struggles and pray with/for each other (James 5:16).

7.  The people are being inspired and equipped to share their faith.

8.  The teaching/preaching is biblical, theological and immensely practical (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4 :1-4).

9.  Ministry to children and teenagers are top priorities, not afterthoughts (Titus 2: 1-8) .

10.  Intercessory prayer fuels everything. It’s the engine, not the caboose, of how the church rolls from top to bottom (1 Timothy 2:1-8).

These are 10 signs you may be going to a great church.  What are some other signs?


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February 1st, 2019

”I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalms 139:14
 
This Psalm written by David is so special because it brings us a confidence which we lack sometimes–we second guess ourselves about our self worth. The Psalmist brings out that we are God’s very special people.
 
Let us visualize David sitting on a hillside watching his father’s sheep and having nothing to do but think. His thoughts are turning toward God. He is aware that God knows so much about him. We know Jesus says in Matthew 10:30-31, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We need not fear, He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.
 
David is reminiscing about when he was fearfully and wonderfully made, God cared for him enough to “knit him” together in a marvelous and awe-inspiring way. This led him to realize and believe that God cared so much that HE would always be there for him.
 
Psalms 13:7-10 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” God would be there for him wherever he was, and God’s love for him gave him value and purpose. There are people who believe that we are a complex collection of chemical interactions; some even think that God does not exist.
 
David, as he watched the sheep, is feeling the breeze blow over his body, looks at his hands and feet, he can feel his heart beat and watches how his chest rises and falls with each breath. He knows it is not an accident, but designed by God himself.
 
We are created by God for something more than selfishness and seeking pleasure. We are made to do great things.
In Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” it says we are God’s workmanship and are created to do good works.
 
David was thinking positively about himself. He had confidence and courage not based on his personal abilities and potential, but upon God’s power and grace.
 
David was a man who faced giants and led his men against the enemies of Israel. His confidence was based entirely on the realization that he was created in the image of God and was special to Him.
 
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” Psalms 139:1-5. David knew God valued him and gave him a purpose.
 
This Psalms 139 was a love song for David. He was declaring his undying love for God. He expresses his adoration of God. He twice asked God to examine his heart to make sure it was clean and acceptable. Nothing in David’s life mattered to him nearly as much as God. He was in love with God. The Bible tells us that David was “a man after God’s own heart.”
 
This is where we want to get in our relationship with God. It’s when we truly realize how much God cares for us that our lives take on new meaning and purpose.
 
This is good news to us who know and love God because no matter what we do or where we go we can never be far from God. Paul says in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 
I encourage you today to be yourself, be who God has designed and created you to be, and stop searching for approval from others. God has created you exceptionally and uniquely for a reason and when you do that you will experience God’s overwhelming peace and joy.
 
Have a blast–God knows you and loves you like no one else can.
 
God Bless.
 
In Christ’s steps,
Pastor Shaker

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