2018 at First Baptist Church

                These are great days at First Baptist, Conroe.  We continue to have new people join our family nearly every week, and there is a great sense of excitement and unity every time we gather.  If you’re a member of FBC, you may be wondering what’s next for us.  Of course, only God knows the future.  But I wanted to show you what we feel He’s leading us to focus on in the year ahead.  Pray and dream along with me…

You’re in high school.  Everyone who knows you, including your parents, sees a happy young woman with a sharp mind, a quirky sense of humor, a ready smile and lots of friends.  But you hate what you see in the mirror, you agonize over every test, and sometimes you pretend to be sick so you won’t have to face the girls at school who make your life a living hell.  You go to church and pretend everything is great.  But inside, you wonder: If Jesus is my Lord, why doesn’t He make all the anxiety and self-doubt go away?

You’re the father of two young kids.  Between your work schedule, your son’s select baseball team and your daughter’s out of town soccer tournaments, quiet weekends at home are rare.  Sundays in church are rarer still.  You feel trapped: You want both kids to be able to compete with their peers later in life.  But when are they supposed to just enjoy being kids?  What am I really teaching them about the importance of God in their lives?  And do my wife and I have anything in common anymore besides a passionate desire to see our kids succeed?

You’re a man in his middle years.  Your wife and kids have long since learned to function apart from you.  You’ve accepted this, because you’ve been able to focus fully on your work.  There, at least, you have value.  There, at least, you know why you exist.  But the company was recently sold, and cutbacks are starting.  People of your age, and with your salary, will be the first to go.  “Lord,” you think to yourself, “If I lose my job, what will I have left?”

These are supposed to be your golden years.  But as you and your husband watch the news each day, you find yourself alternating between fear and anger.  You often hear yourself saying, “I never thought I’d live to see this.”  With all the new people moving into your neighborhood, you increasingly feel like strangers in a place that once felt like home.  Now your son is being transferred overseas, and is taking your grandchildren with him.  It feels like everything you care about is being stripped away.

In Psalm 139, David writes of a God who knows everything about us: When we sleep and when we wake; all our thoughts, intentions, fears and hopes.  He is writing under severe stress; as King of a nation, he has many critics (vv. 19-22).  No doubt, their harsh words sometimes make David doubt himself.  And yet he knows that God has a purpose for his life.  Verses 13-16  beautifully describe God forming David while in his mother’s womb, custom-designing him for all the things He wants David to accomplish in his years on the earth.  He closes his prayer by asking the Lord to test his heart and mind and get rid of any unrighteous motivations, and to lead him in the way that is everlasting.  God answered those prayers.  In Acts 13:36, Paul was able to say (hundreds of years after David died) that he “served the purpose of God in his own generation.”  God created David to positively impact people on the world during his own lifetime, and through God’s power, David did that.

What about you?  Are you serving God’s purpose in your generation?  God cares about the things that worry you and break your heart.  He cares about your self-image, your relationships, your economic status, your physical health, and your emotional stability.  But He also cares about the next door neighbor who is trying to raise three kids without a husband.  He cares about the kid at school who is contemplating suicide.   He cares about your boss and his semi-secret alcohol problem.  He cares about the thousands of people moving into our city this year, many of whom don’t know Him; many of whom are on a track to spend their lives—and their eternity—separated from His love.

God is on mission to redeem human lives.  That is His fulltime occupation.  He created us to join Him on that mission.  I believe with every fiber of my being that when we fulfill God’s purpose in our generation, we finally experience life as it was meant to be lived.  On the other hand, when we focus our time, dreams and prayers on getting into the right college and being popular at school; or teaching our son a wicked curveball and getting our daughter a soccer scholarship; or making a good salary and getting to the top of our company; or having the marriage of our dreams; or wishing the culture around us would start changing for good, we fall short of what God has planned for us.  We miss what God made us for.  None of those things are bad, mind you.  But we were made more for than that.   In fact, I believe that when we focus our lives on fulfilling God’s purpose, decisions about our future, marriage, parenting, friendships, our finances and our place in society start to become much more clear.

This year at First Baptist, Conroe, we are focusing our energies on equipping people for their purpose in God’s mission.  We want to help every member of our church family, from the kids in our children’s ministry to our venerable saints in their nineties, to know why God made them and to find joy in fulfilling that purpose.  In 2018, I will be preaching about finding and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life in this generation.  We will also be hosting a series of special events called The Missional Pathway, which will help you find your purpose in God’s mission, and help our church change our community for good.

What can you do?

Pray.  In the days ahead, we will be focusing on prayer much more intently than we have in the past.  We will have focused prayer times in Sunday worship.  Please join us in those.  My weekly article in the At First worship guide will continue to feature a different prayer emphasis each week. Take those home as a reminder to pray along with the rest of the congregation.  At times, we will have special prayer meetings, printed prayer guides, and other ways to focus our hearts toward God in the same direction.

Participate.  Block off the following dates to be a part of our Missional Pathway events: February 16-17, April 7, October 6, and November 3.  I know your schedules are packed and weekends are precious, but these are potentially life-changing events.  Make sure you’re there.

Prioritize.  Each Sunday that you are able, make it a priority to be here for worship and Life Group, as we focus on equipping you for the incredible things God has planned for you.

Our vision remains for First Baptist remains the same.  We are calling on God to renovate our hearts, so that we become a church that transforms ordinary people into world-changing disciplemakers.  I am praying that in 2018, we will make huge progress toward that vision.   Imagine what would happen if all of us began to fulfill God’s purpose in our generation.  How many lives would be changed?  Only God knows.

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