Keeping Goals

Plan ahead. Set goals. Be deliberate. Stay on target.

Goals you have deliberately thought through and determined to pursue are usually good, important, and needed. You would not typically set flippant goals for yourself. The goals you set are usually significant to you in some way—perhaps for personal, spiritual, or intellectual growth. Sometimes they are significant to you, but not others. Goals are often hard to keep, and without support they can be even harder. 

Here’s the thing, you will falter! With or without support, you will falter. Whether the goal is great or small, you will falter. Why? Well, you are not perfect. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to make. It is easy to slide back into the “norm.” 

Your goals are outside of your norm. That’s why they are goals! Knowing you will falter is not an excuse to give up and quit when you do falter. Instead, this knowledge can and should be the knowledge you need to prepare you for the challenge of “getting back on the horse” when you fall off. Knowing in advance you will be tempted to quit when you misstep in the pursuit of your goal is the power you need to press on. Knowing is half the battle.

The research available regarding what it takes to set a new habit is very varied.  Personally, I haven’t found any good information to “bank” on. What I do know is the the firmly anchored habits that exist in our lives become rituals.  For example, I have been writing in a journal off and on for thirty-eight years. In the beginning, it was a struggle to keep it up. In fact, there are several periods in the thirty-eight years that I did not write for months or even a year. However, I always “got back on the horse.”  Now, journal writing is such a habit, I would call it a ritual. When I miss a day, I don’t have to “make” myself pick it back up the next day—it’s automatic. Not to write in my journal is now odd. Journal writing is no longer a goal. It is a part of my life.

Be prepared to falter. Know you will need to “get back on track.”  Predetermine you will not let a setback stop you. Give yourself a little flexibility regarding the completion of your goal. For example, there may be a day in the week that it is impossible for you to work on your goal—that’s OKAY! Perhaps you cannot work on your goal when you take a family vacation or are away on a business trip—that’s OKAY! Build interruptions like this into your planning.  When you have a big snag in pursing your goal, perhaps you have missed multiple steps in your process or you haven’t completed a daily goal for many days, revisit the reason you set your goal and get back at it! You can do it!  

Remember these Scriptures:

  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 ESV).
  • And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17 ESV).

Search the Scripture. Find the verse(s) God impresses upon you for motivation as you strive toward the completion of your goal(s).

Whatever goals you set for yourself, in order to make them a reality in your life, the following are essential:

1. Set Your Goals — Challenging yet reasonable

2. Establish Strong Motivation — The reason you set your goals

3. Continuous Challenge — The constant reminder to stay on target

4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable

5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine a falter will not stop you

But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:7 ESV).

 

Constant Challenge and Goal Adjustment

The goals you set for yourself are typically meant to challenge you in some way. They challenge you to complete a task or to grow in some area of your life. The word challenge constitutes the idea of competition. So, a personal goal sets up a competition with yourself. It is often a desired habit against an undesirable one—the new against the old. Maybe even good verses evil! It can surely feel like that at times. I set out to lose weight almost a year ago. I set a weight loss goal and proceeded to change my eating habits (there’s a goal) and created some exercise habits (There’s another goal).  It wasn’t long before the competition was fierce! Those sweets I wasn’t going to eat were calling my name! The muscles I was exercising were screaming for me to give them a break. Who would win—the old or the new; the good or the evil?

I found I needed an ongoing challenge to keep me focused. A smartphone app that tracks calorie intake and calories burned allowed me to see where I stood each day. It also allowed me to occasionally decide that I could treat myself to a little sweet every now and then. This was a tremendous help! I also set some specific goals with regard to exercise. I decided that three to five exercise sessions per week were adequate. 

There are many ways you can provide yourself with continual challenge. You can:

  • use lists (like a “to-do” list — make the to-dos specific and time stamped)

  • use a calendar (set mini-goals that are date-driven)

  • use target dates (what you will accomplish by when)

  • use a written guide (a “how to”)

  • use a journal to write about your experiences

  • use feedback and advice from others

  • use prayer to help you focus

  • use Scripture to motivate and to keep you focused

Along the way, you may find it necessary to adjust your goals. Perhaps you “bit off more than you can chew.” In other words, you realize the goal(s) are not reasonable. In this case, it is perfectly all right to adjust your goals. It is better to adjust than to give up.

Some years ago, I challenged my church to read the Bible through in a year. A good number of people accepted the challenge. Some gave up along the way and others completed their goal. I presented a certificate to those who completed their reading of the Bible within the year. There was one person who let me know they were falling behind very quickly after the challenge started. I challenged this person to keep at it. Every now then, I would ask them how it was going and they always answered they were further and further behind. I decided this person needed a new goal. Rather than reading the Bible with the challenge (goal) of completing the reading within a year, I encouraged them to read the Bible so they would have a good understanding of the Bible’s overarching story. This person did not finish within the year—but, they had a new goal. About six months later, this person told me they had finished reading the entire Bible. We were both so excited their adjusted goal was met. 

In this case, adjusting the goal allowed the goal to be completed rather than given up. Don’t use excuses, but if a goal NEEDS adjusting, adjust it! Is it so much better to reach a modified goal than not to reach any goal.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, in order to make them a reality in your life, the following are essential:

1. Set Your Goals — Challenging yet reasonable

2. Establish Strong Motivation — The reason you set your goals

3. Continuous Challenge — The constant reminder to stay on target

4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable

5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine a falter will not stop you

In the next blog post, we’ll discuss the final essential—what to do if you falter.

 

Joe McDowell, Director of Missions

Concord Baptist Association

Strong Motivation Required

Setting goals is one thing. Following through is another. In order to stay on target, strong motivation is required. Personal goals are much harder to reach because the motivation to compete these goals often must be self-generated. In other words, no one else is holding your “feet to the fire” so you must do it yourself!

When you set goals for yourself you often start out strong and make good progress toward your goals; but, as time goes by, your motivation often wanes and you see your goals slipping away— often never fulfilled. So, why is it you are able to reach some goals and not others? The result largely depends on motivation. Motivation is your desire or drive to accomplish something. Psychologists say motivation is the process that arouses, sustains, and regulates behavior. In a nutshell, when it comes to goals, motivation comes down to 1.) the reason you set a goal in the first place, and 2.) what’s going to sustain the behavior needed to complete your goal.

The harder and longer it takes to complete goals, the stronger your motivation will need to be to see you through.

When I realize I’m hungry, it does not take any more motivation than that realization to cause me to reach the goal of satisfying that feeling. In fact, it is very easy to be over-motivated and indulge in this area.  When I notice the grass in my yard needs mowing the motivation to get it done may be low, but then there’s the realization that the taller and thicker it gets, the harder it is to deal with. That realization can be just the little motivation needed to get the job done.

The goals you truly wrestle with are of greater significance than eating or mowing the lawn. Sometimes you know you should to set certain goals. The thought of setting these goals can create real anxiety. Why, because you know they will be difficult to reach. You know you could fail. You know pursing the goal will create pain physically and/or mentally. You are afraid of them. In order to set and reach these goals, your motivation must be STRONG!

Some examples of difficult goals could be losing weight, setting and maintaining a quiet time, reading your Bible through in a year, stopping a habit like smoking or nail biting, reading “x” number of books during the year, studying a subject like real estate for self-improvement, etc. 

You have probably all struggled with setting goals in some areas of your life and there are probably some goals you have known you need to set, but never have. 

How do you set and reach goals that are difficult? You must be motivated to set the goal. You must look deep within yourself and pray often seeking God’s help for the motivation you need. God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit can help you find motivation in many areas of your life. God wants you to be as healthy as you can be, He wants you to be as intellectually sound as you can be, and He wants you to grow in your spiritual lives. There are many aspects of life in which God has very specific instructions.  When your desires become God’s desires, strong motivation can result.

How to maintain strong motivation:

  1. Revisit the reason/motivation for setting your goal in the first place. Continually return to your original thoughts. Your original motivation can be a strong influence to keep you going.
  2. Measure your progress. To do this, the goals you set must be measurable. Be pleased with forward progress. Movement toward your goal IS SUCCESS! Also, that success can be additional motivation!
  3. Have at least one cheerleader. Tell someone who will be supportive and ask them to be a positive voice in the pursuit of your goals. At the same time, ask “Debbie Downers” to keep their comments to themselves.
  4. Interact with others who have the same goal(s). When two or more seeking the same thing(s) come together, there can be mutual encouragement and mutual commissary. Yes, sometimes a little sympathy can actually be motivating.
  5. Pray and seek God’s help through the Holy Spirit. Pray daily about your goals. Back up your goals with Scripture. Scripture can be extremely motivational. Just remembering these two verses can be motivation to complete any good goal.
    1. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him Colossians 3:17 (ESV).  
    2. I can do all things through him who strengthens me Philippians 4:13 (ESV).

Whatever goals you set for yourself, in order to make them a reality in your life, the following are essential:

1. Set Your Goals — Challenging yet reasonable

2. Establish Strong Motivation — The reason you set your goals

3. Continuous Challenge — The constant reminder to stay on target

4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable

5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine a falter will not stop you

So far, we have discussed setting challenging yet reasonable goals and establishing strong motivation for your goals. The next blog post will discuss the need for continuous challenge. Build these essentials into your goals and you will be successful!

Joe McDowell, Director of Missions

Concord Baptist Association

 

Set Challenging but Reasonable Goals

Setting goals for ourselves can be overwhelming. The possibilities are just about endless. Some goals are set for us. Usually these are set by our employer. They may be related to sales quotas or the number of contacts made, etc. In this series, I’m not talking about the mandatory goals placed on us by others, though some of the principles I discuss may be helpful with these goals. My focus is on goals that we make for ourselves for personal growth. I will address goals we may make in three areas of our lives. They are spiritual goals, intellectual goals, and physical goals. These goals are typically not mandatory (though there maybe some cases when they are) and these are areas of growth the Bible places emphasis on in some way.

Of spiritual growth, the Bible says:

  • Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (John 15:4).
  • And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).
  • Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Of knowledge, the Bible says:

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
  • Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold (Proverbs 8:10).
  • The wise lay up knowledge (Proverbs 10:14).
  • When a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge (Proverbs 21:1).

Of the body, the Bible says:

  • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

These are but a few verses that pertain to growth in these areas. We can also see from Scripture that Jesus as a young man was focused on these areas of life and grew in them:

  • And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him (Luke 2:40).
  • And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).
  • After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.  And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart (Luke 2:46–51).

What are some goals you might challenge yourself to set in these areas of life?

For spiritual goals, perhaps you want to read your Bible more, spend more time in prayer, be more involved in church, or act on certain biblical principles you know are missing in your life.

For intellectual goals, perhaps you want to read more or take a class related to a particular subject or to be better informed on local, national and world news. 

For physical goals, perhaps you want to lose weight, exercise more, or eat in a more healthy way.

As you ponder these three areas of your life, jot down the potential goals you might set for yourself.  After you have written your goals down, you may have several under each heading. If you are not careful, you can overwhelm yourself with these goals. I suggest that you choose one or two from each area and develop your plan to accomplish these goals. Start simple! It is often a good idea to set your goals in incremental stages.

For example. let’s say you want to read you Bible through in one year. To do this, you choose a Bible reading plan. First, choose a simple one, one that goes though each part of the Bible once.  The “M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan” takes you through the entire Bible but it also takes you through the New Testament and Psalms twice. This plan may be a bit ambitious for your first try. So choose a basic Old Testament/New Testament plan, a beginning to end plan or a chronological plan. Now if you can complete each reading every day GREAT, but it might be good idea to begin with a time limit. Begin by reading 15 minutes each day. Plan to do this for two weeks. Keep track of where you are in the reading plan. After two weeks, increase your reading time to 20 minutes each day for another week. Then move up to 30 minutes each day. Read for 30 minutes each day for several months. You will probably soon catch up with where your reading plan says you should be. If you want to read longer than 30 minutes each day, after several months, increase your reading time 10 to 15 minutes. Do this until you reach your goal for daily reading time. BUT, keep the maximum time reasonable for your overall schedule.

Setting your goals up in an incrementally increasing way can help you be successful in reaching your goals. This process can help you with any goal you may set in any of the growth areas we are discussing.

Remember goals can have a biblical perspective! Make your goals with biblical principles in mind and choose Bible verses that pertain to the goals you are setting. Make your goals challenging but reasonable and you will be successful.

 

Joe McDowell, Director of Missions

Concord Baptist Association

 

Setting and Keeping Goals (New Year’s Resolutions)

The coming of the New Year is a time of evaluation. With the turn of the calendar from the current year to the new, we envision a new opportunity. The tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions is very old!  “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year” (http://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions). I imagine the Babylonians had a hard time keeping their New Year’s resolutions just as we do. 

We celebrate the new year and make our resolution pledges, but the fact is January 1 is just another day and 2018 will be just another year, unless we set and keep the resolutions we talk and dream of.

This time of year, we think of the things of life we want to accomplish or that we desire to be different. Most often we just let our thoughts and desires for change slide into nothingness—we never act on them. Sometimes we begin the new year working to make our resolutions a reality. Often we are excited and determined, but by March or even sooner, we have given up and written off the possibility for change.  

What can we do to help ourselves and others make and keep New Year’s resolutions?

First, we need to set challenging, but reasonable goals.

Second, we must understand the motivation for reaching our goals and the motivation must be real.

Third, we need to be challenged continually to continue our pursuit of the goals.

Fourth, we need to adjust our goals along the way, if necessary—it is better to adjust goals than to give up altogether.

Lastly, we must not quit if we falter. Rather than giving up, we must renew our resolve and begin again.

Choosing a Scripture passage can help you maintain your motivation. Some possible Scriptures to contemplate:

    • I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 ESV).
    • Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23 ESV).
    • Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV).

New Year’s Resolutions (goals) can be connected with any part of our lives. Maybe we need better time management. Maybe we want to lose weight. Maybe we want to read our Bible more. Whatever the desired change may be, in order to make the resolution a reality in our lives, the following are essential:

1. Set Your Goals — Challenging yet reasonable

2. Establish Strong Motivation — The reason you set your goals

3. Continuous Challenge — The constant reminder to stay on target

4. Adjust Your Goals — Adjust the goal if it is unreasonable

5. Acknowledge you may falter — Predetermine a falter will not stop you

Making a New Year’s Resolution a reality is difficult. Why? Resolutions normally require a change in or a new habit. Habits are hard to break and they are hard to make, but with a plan you can do it.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll discuss each of these points in more detail to help you develop a tangible plan to accomplish the resolutions you make for your life.

Rev. Joe McDowell, Director of Missions

Concord Baptist Association

 

Read Your Bible Through In A Year

The Bible has an overarching story, the meta-story. Reading the entire Bible will help you see and understand this meta-story. It will also help you get into the habit of reading your Bible. 

Here are two different reading plans to choose from.

1.  Read from the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the Wisdom Literature or the Prophets.

Bible Reading Plan

2. Read the Bible in Chronological Order

Read in Chronological Order

Advent Books for Families

Family Advent Studies:

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room: Daily Family Devotions for Advent – Devotions for each day, along with explanation of Christmas carols, and discussion starters appropriate for the whole family.

We Bring These Gifts: an Advent Bible Study for Families – This Bible study will help your family become intentional about loving God and others. This study also includes family night ideas, crafts, and recipes.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas – Includes specially written devotions to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for each day, with suggested activities, and beautiful illustrations. 

We Light the Candles: Devotions Related to Family Use of the Advent Wreath – Short and simple devotions to keep the focus on the meaning of Christmas. 

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent – Follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family, and eventually finds Jesus in the manger.

Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent – While traveling with her family, Tabitha watches as Romans take her father prisoner, spends time with Zechariah and Elizabeth, helps Mary and Joseph just before Christ’s birth, and ends her travels at the stable in Bethlehem.

Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent – Follow along in Ishtar’s search for the newborn king.

Picture Books:

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger – Hands down the entire family’s favorite Christmas book. Follow along as Mortimer the mouse looks for a home, and in the process learns the story of Jesus.

The Christmas Story – Classic Little Golden Book retelling of the Christmas story.

Legend of the Candy Cane – The Christmas story as told through the making of a candy cane.

The Crippled Lamb – Though Jesus the crippled lamb learns that God makes everyone special.

The Pine Tree Parable – The story of how sacrifice can bring the greatest joy.

Room for a Little One – A simple poem, which tells the story of the manger through the animals in the stable.

Humphrey’s First Christmas – The story of one camel;s selflessness towards the baby Jesus.

The Legend of the Three Trees – While as much an Easter story, as Christmas story, it’s truth is powerful. God has a plan for us all, that might be different than the one we hoped for.

Small Camel Follows a Star – Follow along as small camel searches for a baby king.

The Most Precious Gift – This book is out of print, but worth looking for used. The sweet story tells of a young boy with nothing to give the baby king.

The Story of the Nativity by Anna Milbourne – Great pictures and simple text retelling the nativity story.

The Christmas Story by Carol Heyer – This book is out of print, but it is one of our favorites. Simple Biblical retelling of the Christmas story with beautiful acrylic painting illustrations.

 

Celebrating Advent At Home

Advent - Keep Christmas Focused on Christ

We all know how easy it is for the true meaning of Christmas to be lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. Our families often have a wonderful time--happy to see each other and of course, the excitement of gifts and Santa’s delivery.  Our celebrations often leave out the worship of our Savior and Lord, Jesus. The whole point of the season can be overlooked if we do not actively seek to overcome the cultural norms for the season and return to the worshipful focus it was meant to have.

Celebrating Advent is a good way to help refocus the season on Jesus, the Christ while still having all the fun and excitement of family celebrations and Santa’s deliveries.

The celebration of Advent can be simple yet effective in retaining a Christ-centered Christmas. An individual devotional or family devotional guide, a Bible, a few candles, several worshipful Christmas carols and a little time each day (in the morning, at dinner time, in the evening--whenever works) beginning Sunday December 3, 2017 through Christmas Day can make this Christmas season spiritually meaningful as well as just plain old fun.

Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Advent, as part of the liturgical calendar, is the time leading up to Christmas, which includes the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Many churches celebrate Advent with special services, which include the lighting of candles on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. These special services are to prepare attenders’ hearts for the celebration of Christmas Day, the day Jesus was born. The first Sunday of Advent celebrates “Hope.” The Second celebrates “Love.” The third, “Joy” and the fourth, “Peace.” Then Christmas day is the culmination of the celebration, usually at home because Christmas only falls on Sunday every few years. Some churches have Christmas Eve services to end their Advent season.

The candles used in the celebration of Advent are often blue or purple in color for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Sundays (Hope, Love and Peace) with the 3rd candle being pink or rose colored (Joy). If a 5th candle is used, The Christ Candle, it is white or gold in color.  At church, you may see candles like this arranged in a circle with the Christ Candle in the middle.

You can use this same arrangement for celebrating Advent at home or you can use an arrangement of candles for every day of Advent from the 1st Sunday to Christmas Day. You might choose red or green for your daily candles while your Sunday candles and the Christ Candle remain as described above. This takes quite a few candles but it allows more candles to be lit each day as Christmas approaches so that by Christmas Day, all of the beautiful candles are burning at once. 

A suggested devotional time to celebrate advent each day would include:

1. Light the appropriate candle(s).

2. Read Scripture (a Scripture may be suggested in your devotional guide).

3. Read and discuss the Devotion for the day.

4. Sing or listen to a worshipful Christmas carol or hymn.

5. Pray.

6. Blow out your candle(s).

AVENT DEVOTIONAL GUIDES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE CONCORD BAPTIST ASSOCIATION OFFICE. There is a guide for individuals and a guide for families. The cost is $1 for each while supplies last.

Advent with an arrangement of 5 candles:

- Arrange the 4 “Sunday” candles around the Christ Candle.

- On the 1st Sunday of Advent (Dec 3) light the first Sunday candle. Remember, the pink or rose candle is for the 3rd Sunday. The blue or purple candles are for the other three Sundays.

- Every day during your 1st week of Advent Celebration.  Relight the 1st Sunday’s candle.

- On the 2nd Sunday of Advent, light the 1st and 2nd Sundays’ candles. Relight both candles during each day of the 2nd week of Advent Celebration.

- Continue this pattern, adding a candle each week until all four are burning during your celebration time.

- On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, light all of your candles for your final Advent devotional (Celebration).

Advent with a candle for every day of Advent

Your candles will have a slightly different number and arrangement each year depending on what day of the week Christmas Day falls on. For this year (2017) your candle arrangement would look like this.

B-R-R-R-R-R-R-P-R-R-R-W-B-R-R-R-R-R-R-B-R-R-R

B = blue or purple for 3 Sundays

P = pink or rose for the 3rd Sunday

W = white or gold for the Christ Candle (in the middle)

R = red or green for the days of the week other than Sunday and Christmas Day.

- You can vary these colors based on personal preference.

Light the first B candle on the left on Sunday December 3. On Monday December 4, light the B candle you lit on Sunday and the first R candle on the right. On Tuesday, light the B and the R candles you have lit before plus the first R candle on the left. Continue this pattern until all the candles are burning on Christmas Day.

Visit the Concord Baptist Association office to pick up your Advent Devotional Guide and to see an example of each of the candle arrangements described above.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season. We pray celebrating Advent will help focus your thoughts on the reason for the season -- Jesus, the Christ.

Disaster Relief through the Virginia Baptist -- ways to help.

https://bgav.org/hurricane-harvey-response/

Article from Tony Brooks - BGAV Field Strategist:

Tony Brooks: 4 Ways to Help during Crisis and Hurricane Harvey

Posted: 8/28/17 at 6:55am. Post by Tony Brooks.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV)  

We are all paying attention to what is happening in Texas. (I am writing this blog on Saturday afternoon.) It is always tough to see others made in the image of God facing catastrophes. What can we do? Here are some ideas for Sunday School classes and small groups:  

  1. Pray! Praying is always the best place to start. God prepares us to do what is next. Each class/small group should be praying: What do you want me to do, God?  
  2. Give! Though many cannot actually go there, we can all give! I will be doing so. If you are not trained for Disaster Response, this is the best way to help out. They will need help for months. Your class can begin a fundraiser next week and know that every dime given through BGAV will go to families in need. Here is the link: https://bgavdr.org/responses/hurricane-harvey/ 
  3. Send! If you have trained volunteers through our Disaster Response, they are heroes! Encourage them to go. Pray over them and applaud their heroic efforts to help others.
  4. Encourage Training! We have one of the best-trained Disaster Response groups in the world! We are there long after others leave, and it is not about money for us. It is what Jesus would do as we minister to the least of these. Contact us if you are interested in hosting training in your region (https://bgavdr.org/volunteer/). 

How are you helping the least of these outside your community? This is one way to make a difference.  

 

Tony Brooks is our Sunday School/Discipleship Specialist and Field Strategist for the Southside Region. You may email him at tony.brooks@bgav.org.Follow Tony on Twitter: @TonyBrooks7

New Radio Broadcast starting Tuesday July 4

New Concord Association Radio Broadcast!

Beginning July 4 Rev. Joe McDowell, Director of Missions will start broadcasting a program entitled, “Everyday Faith — Living out your faith beyond Sunday.” Joe will provide practical insights to help people live out their Christian values and he will promote the Concord Baptist Association. "Everyday Faith” will air every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 AM on 96.7 Shine FM.

Mission Trip in Southwest Viriginia

Fifteen members of the Concord Baptist Association (CBA) are spending this week in Nickelsville, VA working with the Southwestern Virginia Partnership (SVP). Part of the group is working on a house trailer--putting on a new roof, new deck, and porch roof. Others are working with a food pantry and several nursing homes.

The disabled owner of the house trailer is a Christian and it is obvious he feels thankful and blessed to be receiving much needed repairs to his home.  He was presented a new Bible when the work was completed. The Bible's flyleaf pages have been filled with personal notes of encouragement from the people who worked on his home. Along with the presentation of the Bible, time was spent praying for him.  This team met a tangible need in this person's life and the message and love of Jesus has been wonderfully displayed.

Many families and individuals were given assistance in the way of food from the food pantry. The Association members working at the food pantry spoke of several people who stood out in their memories from their day of work at the pantry. They spoke of families and individuals who were obviously touched and blessed by the assistance they received. Some of the people who had the opportunity to speak of Jesus were able to speak words of blessing to them. Again the message and love of Jesus was shared with many people through the act of meeting one of humanity's most basic needs--food. 

This team from the CBA working with the SVP not only helped and blessed others, they were also blessed in the process - this was an opportunity to see God work through their actions. This mission touched their lives. How wonderful it is to see the Lord work through the work of our hands and the words of our mouths.

“Drug & Gang Awareness Program”

On Sunday afternoon April 2, the Southside Drug & Gang Task Force in association with the Concord Baptist Association presented a “Drug & Gang Awareness Program.” Bethany Baptist Church provided the location and snack foods for the program.

The program was led by Ronnie Campbell. Ronnie is the State Police Agent in charge of the Task Force and he is also the Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church. The program was opened by Bethany Baptist Students who led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, read from Scripture and led the attendees in “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Various members of the Southside Drug & Gang Task Force spoke to the attendees. The Task Force members include State Police Agents, County Deputies and Town Police officers.

Topics included:

  • An overview of Heroin: Information about the drug was given, but more importantly the presenting agents explained how this drug is impacting our Southside community. The use of Heroin in our area and across the nation is shocking! This quote from the Oct 11, 2015 Richmond Times Dispatch was given; “Deaths in Virginia from heroin and opioid use outnumbered highway fatalities for the first time last year.”  Simply put, more people die in the state of Virginia due to heroin and opioid overdose than from vehicle related deaths.
  • A general presentation of providing information on gangs was given and again, more importantly information on the growth of gangs in our community was discussed. Gang membership is on the rise and a startling fact was that gangs of today often evolve around purpose rather than race, ethnicity or ideology (though these types of gangs certainly still exist). Gang recruitment often begins with children as young as 7 to 9 years old! These children will be asked to do simple tasks in return for a small amount of money. From these simple beginnings gang ideology and membership is developed. The agents discussed various ways that gang members can be spotted and provided information to help parents spot potential gang involvement in their children. Attached is a copy of a handout provided on this topic entitled, “Parents’ Guide to Gangs”.
  • Mecklenburg County Sheriff, R.W. Hawkins, Jr., Task Force Leader Ronnie Campbell and each presenting agent stressed the need for community involvement in the fight against drug and gang crimes. The community can be the eyes and ears the Task Force needs. Information can be given to them through any local law enforcement office or through “Crime Solvers” at 1-877-676-8477.
  • Ronnie Campbell encouraged the Christian community to be involved in this community problem. As Christians, we are to be “salt and light” to our community. Sheriff Hawkins, in answer to a question from an attendee, indicated that one of the greatest needs is for foster parents. He indicated the number of children being removed from their parents has risen over the past few years. Good homes where these children can be cared for and loved are direly needed.

As members of the Concord Baptist Association -- as Christians -- I ask each person and for each church to make this growing problem a matter of prayer. As Christians, we are called to aid in the suffering of the people around us. Yes, people often make bad choices that put them in bad situations, but they need help--their children need help! The Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” Romans 1:16 (ESV). Good deeds provided to those in need coupled with the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ can change lives!

Rev. Joe McDowell
Director of Missions
Concord Baptist Association

 Bethany Pastor/State Police Special Agent Ronnie Campbell opened the “Drug & Gang Awareness Program”

Bethany Pastor/State Police Special Agent Ronnie Campbell opened the “Drug & Gang Awareness Program”

 The crowd gathers for the “Drug & Gang Awareness Program.” By the time theprogram started there was standing room only.

The crowd gathers for the “Drug & Gang Awareness Program.” By the time theprogram started there was standing room only.

 Bethany Baptist Church Students led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, Read Scripture, and led in the reciting of the “Lord’s Prayer.”

Bethany Baptist Church Students led in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, Read Scripture, and led in the reciting of the “Lord’s Prayer.”

 Agents used facts, statistics, and stories to explain the drug and gang problem that exists in Southside Virginia.

Agents used facts, statistics, and stories to explain the drug and gang problem that exists in Southside Virginia.

 The program also included practical helps for the community.

The program also included practical helps for the community.

A Chore or A Blessing

Are there times when doing God's work seems like a chore? Have you ever been called or asked to do something you knew in your heart was what God wanted you to do, but you felt imposed upon? We have probably all felt this way from time to time. Recently, I got a call and I felt that twinge of dread, but I acted on what I knew I needed to do, knowing it was a God moment and could not be missed. As I allowed God to use me, I felt both joy and pain. There was joy seeing God work in an eternal way and there was pain as I saw the physical distress of the moment. Afterwards, I was drained. I was happy in what God had done, but the reality of the situation brought me low.

 

I took some time and opened God's word. I knew right where to go--to 1 Corinthians 13. I read, "Love...does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful." I knew these were my feelings as I listened to the phone call asking me to change my plans for the day. I was convicted about the way I received the news of what I needed to do. I realized my attitude and my priorities were out of whack. I was thankful that in spite of those initial thoughts and feelings, I did act in love. I acted for the good of the one I was called to minister to. My actions were of love in spite of my feelings and you know, the "feelings" of love soon accompanied the actions of love. I am so glad I acted as I knew I needed to. I'm so thankful God used me in spite of myself. I'm so amazed how He forgives so quickly and acts on our behalf as we act on the behalf of Him and someone else. I praise my God!

 

In this instance, I was able to share the plan of salvation and God allowed me to be a part of the Spirit's actions to bring someone into the Kingdom.

Why Jesus Came

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