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Great Expectations

My Grandpa Edwards once told my father that there would be no need for anyone to feel sorry for him when he died because he had witnessed so many inventions and world-changing events during his lifetime.  He had seen aviation become a real thing.  People flew.  He had seen the invention of the automobile, electric lights, and the telephone.  His eyes had watched the coverage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.  People had left the planet and had returned.  Yes, Grandpa saw so many things and he told Dad that he would have the same experience one day.

My Dad saw the refinement of all the things Grandpa had seen and much more.  He saw Skylab and the Space Shuttle.  Dad also enjoyed microwave ovens, computers, and mobile phones.  He and his generation would see supersonic flight, fuel injection engines and synthetic turf.  He saw the Astrodome, then the 8th wonder of the world, and he saw record albums turn to 8-track tape turned into cassettes, to CD’s and then into MP3’s.  That’s not to mention live streaming of video and audio over the internet.  

When I was younger, Dad told me the same thing that Grandpa had told him and I expected to see great things.  I was not disappointed.  I saw refinements to all Dad had seen and I have enjoyed the arrival of many newer things with him and Mom.  Two days ago, I drove to the DMV in Lake Charles.  My driver’s license had expired and I was going to replace it.  As I pulled into the parking place outside the DMV, I realized that I didn’t have my insurance ID cards which were necessary in order for me to renew my license.  Just 10 years ago, I would have had to call my insurance agent, a fete that I could’ve accomplished on a cell phone but only 20 years ago I would’ve had to find a payphone.  For those too young to remember, a payphone was a landline phone that was housed in a booth and was usually located outside.  After I called, I would’ve had to have driven to the agent’s office to retrieve the typed or printed cards and then I could return to the DMV to start the process towards a new license.  

Two days ago, I called my wife from my car on a smartphone.  She then called the agent who then e-mailed the cards to my phone through my e-mail account.  My wife had texted me in the meantime to inform me what was going to happen.  Within 5 minutes of my call to my wife, I had the new cards on my phone.  I presented the cards and my other information to the clerk and walked out of the DMV with my new license in less than 30 minutes.  If I had known that my insurance company provided an app for the cards, I could have been done in less time than it would have taken me to drive to the agent’s office and back.  

Further amazement awaited me because I am typing all of this blog entry on a tablet while using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.  At your reading of this article, I will have uploaded the file to the cloud, e-mailed the file to another person or given another individual access to the file; waited for them to download it to their computer or smartphone or more likely they will have used their phone to transfer the file to our church website.  Earlier, I streamed TV shows from Netflix to the same tablet.  

Wow!  And with all that, God is still the most amazing being.  I will never see more iterations of better and better versions.  He is already perfect.  He was magnificent and holy God before my Grandpa, and before my Dad, and before Me.  He will be the same tomorrow for my kids and for my grandkids.  I bought a hat today and it has written on the front, “Old guys rule.”  On the back it says, “The older I get, the better I was.”  With age, our minds tend to embellish who we were and what we could do.  But God truly has always been great, and He will reign forever and ever.  He needs no improvement and man cannot fully fathom His greatness.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13-8, ESV).”  His ways are not our ways.  Man grows, changes, and morphs.  God remains who He is.  We simply learn more about Him.

God used all givers in our church to give at a record clip in 2015.  Together, we gave more tithes and offerings than had ever been given in any other year in the church’s history.  God was glorified in the giving and in the spending of that money.  People heard the gospel and were saved when they placed their faith in Jesus.  They believed in the same Jesus as my Grandpa, my Dad, and I. As you and I look forward to 2016 and beyond, let us have great expectations at what God will reveal of Himself and let us look forward to growing in our faith and to exercising that faith. 

-Senior Pastor Randy Edwards

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Idyllic Reality

Louisiana is my home.  I grew up here in Lake Charles and I enjoyed a very good childhood.  My summer days were filled with baseball, bicycle rides across our city, and friendships that lasted forever (or until summer's end, which seemed like the same thing).  When I hear people describe those days as idyllic, I agree.  And I'm thankful they were real.


In recent weeks, our state has been rocked by gunfire and we have seen some of our citizens wounded and killed by those shots.  We've even seen some of the strong and courageous among us, our police officers, slain in the line of duty.  When we see those who protect us suffer the ultimate sacrifice, we are reminded that none of us are invincible.  


As the fabric of our lives have been textured and torn in light of what seems to be the reign of evil in our society, many have wondered what can be done to turn things around.  What can we do to see our communities as safe places for our children?  What can be done to turn back the evil tide that threatens to overtake us? How can we reassure those close to us that things will be okay?


We remember Isaiah 41:10:

 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)
 

That verse helps us to remember and to practice Proverbs 12:25:

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (Proverbs 12:25 ESV)


Then we are given 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18:

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 ESV)

Some would say that seems idyllic. I'm simply reminded that it's real.  I'm asking you to seek God's strength, to give a good word to others, and to pray.  If you need help to start your prayer, may I offer this from an article entitled, Fifteen ways to Lead Group Prayer:

Pray from a cleansed life and heart (James 5:16)

Pray with perseverance and persistence (Matthew 7:7-11)

Pray specific prayers (Matthew 9:35-38)

Pray with a sensitivity to God’s Spirit (Psalm 46:10)

Pray Spirit-filled prayers (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Pray in accordance with God’s will (Luke 22:39-46)

Pray with a view toward obedience and service (Psalm 126:4-6)
 

This is a good start to reassuring those close to us that it will be okay.

-Randy Edwards - Senior Pastor

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What Does it Mean to be Missional?

What does it mean to be missional?  Since the early 1990's the word "missional" has been tossed around in churches and seminaries almost as frequently as the word "purpose".  Missional was and is a buzzword and for some, that's all it ever becomes- a buzzword.

Before I knew there was a word to describe what I believed to be a very important answer to the lethargic lukewarm broth that was the church in the early '90's, I struggled to find a way to have conversations with other pastors about the next steps for church development.  I found that very few could describe what they meant by missional.

Will Mancini has what I've come to believe is the best definition of missional.  "Essentially it is a way of thinking that challenges the church to re-form and reforge its self-understanding (theologically, spiritually, and socially) so that it can relearn how to live and proclaim the gospel in the world.  Perhaps the best motto of the reorientation is the imperative to 'be the church.'  Church is not something you do or a place you go to, but what you are."

My experience in the early '90's was that people were attempting to construct a new paradigm for "doing church" when the real need was for all of us to adopt the biblical paradigm to be the church.  Through the years, I've changed my term for this paradigm and I use it here at Sale Street.  We are Mission!  Our mission is clear.  We are to make disciples, and doing so requires us to be genuine in our love for God and of others.  It requires us to live a life, reflective of the image of God through Jesus in order that people might inquire about our faith. 

I believe that a Christian should be a committed disciple, and the life that arises from that commitment should exhibit fruit that is recognizable to all.  The transformation that occurs as we allow God to change us is noticeable to others.  If each of us continues to be changed by Jesus, we can impact the world for Him!  We are Mission!

-Senior Pastor Randy Edwards

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Christmas at Sale Street

Merry Christmas and welcome to Sale Street Baptist Church!  Throughout the month of December, we will be sharing the message of Jesus in a variety of ways.  The primary method, as always, will be through the preaching of the gospel.

This month, we will be looking at accounts that Luke wrote, “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”  That’s how Luke dedicated his writings to Theophilus in Luke 1:1-4.  After all, it’s an amazing story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.  It’s nice to have certainty about those things.

When you come to services here, you will hear about the miraculous birth of our Savior, Jesus.  You’ll be reminded that much of the book of Luke includes many other witnesses to the events of Jesus’ life.  You will be directed to look at Jesus, and to cherish Him as God’s gift.

We really hope to see you as we celebrate Christmas at Sale Street.

-Randy Edwards, Senior Pastor

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Exodus 19:8

Negotiation seems to be the most honored skill in our culture.  We hear a price and we try to get a better one.  We receive an explanation of employer expectations and we immediately try to whittle them down to suit us.  No price is final and no policy is in cement.  There is always a better way to get our way.


Please understand that there is a time and a place for the use of negotiation skills and I’m always open to saving a few dollars.  But our society has taken the art of negotiating a good deal and applied it to every part of life.  Prices are seen as suggestions and conditions are made to be changed.  That seems to be the new motto in our culture.

Children now negotiate about bedtimes and food choices.  Students look for more convenient test dates and for agreeable content on exams.  It seems everything is up for bargaining and the skills are honed at an early age.


I’ve been observing this aspect of human behavior over the past 25-30 years and have made some amateur observations.  Sometimes our desire to negotiate jeopardizes our safety.  At other times, we begin negotiating before we even know what the bottom line was going to be and certainly before we’ve heard all the conditions of the contract.  We also will negotiate upon something that was already beneficial to us.  Our desire to get a better deal keeps us from knowing a good deal when we see it.


It is my belief that this desire in human nature causes us to attempt to negotiate with God.  After all, if the Ten Commandments are simply suggestion, shouldn’t we be allowed to choose which ones to follow and to what degree we follow?  The apostle Paul might say, “May it never be.”  

Exodus 19:8 records an admirable answer we should have with regard to God’s word.  It says, “   All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD (Exodus 19:8 ESV).” James says, “    But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22 ESV).”


Have you reached the point where you have said you will do all that the LORD has spoken or are you negotiating for a better deal?  Determine to do all that He has spoken.  God has already offered the best in Jesus.


-Senior Pastor Randy Edwards

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A Change in Seasons

Summer is almost over and our children are heading back to school.  Soon, we’ll all be back into the routine of autumn and we’ll wonder where summer went.  We’ll be reminded that for everything there is a season.
 
Many see this time of year as the end of things.  It is the end of growing season for some.  For others summer vacation has ended.  Still others will see days getting shorter and recreation time will be limited.  Golf clubs and fishing poles will be put away and they will be replaced by football games and hunting season.  It really seems every end brings a beginning.

Our church was recently reminded of the significance of new life as we celebrated baptisms of those who placed faith in Jesus Christ.  Our schedule continues to be filled with activity as people return from vacation.  We hear stories from camps and retreats and family reunions.  So, for the church, the end of summer rings in the beginning of so many things.

There will be no shortage of opportunities to gather and to serve at Sale Street in the coming months.  I hope you will be fed in Bible Study and then I hope you will serve in one of the many areas of our church.  Mostly, I hope you will be continuously renewed and refreshed in Christ.
Whether you are facing an ending or a beginning, please know that Jesus is constant and that His love never fails.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).” 

-Randy Edwards, Senior Pastor

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Summer Update

Summer at Sale Street Baptist Church has already been thrilling and it stands to get even more exciting! God is allowing us to see the work of His hands and it is encouraging to see people of all ages accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Our church family is engaging the community and life transformation is expected. We are making disciples to make a difference.

VBS was tremendous and I thank all of you who worked and planned for that week. Two elementary schools were served in May. Our children are being taught on Sundays and Wednesdays and we are blessed with wonderful people who serve these kids and their families. The youth are set for a summer of continued study and fun in camp venues and at Journey on Wednesdays. They also worked hard moving contents from the Children’s building to the Warehouse in preparation for the remodel of the Children’s building. Faithful workers keep the youth ministry going and we thank you.

Bible studies are growing on Sunday morning and throughout the week. Thank you to all the teachers and facilitators. When it comes to God’s Word, learn it, live it, teach it!


College students are serving on mission in Lake Charles, the United States, and the world.

Fresh Heart, the Deacons, and the rest of the body are making sure people are fed, clothed, and sheltered in Jesus’ name. Another faithful group of people minister to our homebound members.

Construction is starting at Sale Street Baptist Church and God will use us and every inch of the property to make disciples! Give faithfully.

If we weren’t here, would Lake Charles miss us? This summer, I think it would.

What will God do with us in the fall?

 

 - Randy Edwards, Senior Pastor

                                                                        

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