Important Worship, Transition, & Ministry Updates

Freshwater family,

I hope this post finds you well – embracing your saltiness and shining on for our Lord Jesus! I am writing today to share with you a few updates and reminders about worship, transition, and ministry. After reading through this information if you have any questions or if I can meet a need for you in any way please do not hesitate to reach out and let me know. I love you all deeply and I am excited about the days and opportunities in front of us as we move forward into God’s future together glorifying God and advancing the Gospel all along the way.

Worship Updates

    • Our final Sunday evening worship gathering is this Sunday, November 11th at 5:00 PM
    • We will gather at 989 E. 380th Road, Bolivar, MO 65613
        • Directions: Take Hwy 83 north of Bolivar; you will go past The Berry Patch; the home we are gathering at is up a large hill on your left hand side as you are traveling north; there will be a roadside indicator (sign/balloons/etc) to help you find the turn; be patient while someone helps you find a good parking spot
        • Carpool if possible
    • There will be hotdogs and marshmallows provided for roasting, but we are also having a potluck so bring a dish or two along with you (main, side, dessert dishes are all welcome)
    • We will have a time of worship, a time of prayer in recognition of Orphan Care Sunday, a short message, and a time of testimony reflecting on our journey together as a church family and God’s faithfulness and mercy

Transition Updates

    • This Saturday, November 10th at 1:00 PM the Children’s Ministry of FBC are hosting an open house event for our families in the main building. The purpose of this open house is to help Freshwater families understand the FBC childcare registration information and procedures, tour the building so you know exactly where to take your kids on a Sunday, and to build relationships
    • We want to encourage every Freshwater family, member, and attender to attend a Sunday morning worship gathering at FBC Bolivar this Sunday, November 11th. Here are some great options for you to choose from:
        •   8:00 AM; The Esquire; Acoustic Worship
        •   9:15 AM; Main Building; Band-led Worship
        • 10:50 AM; Main Building; Traditional/Choir Worship
        • 10:50 AM; The Esquire; Band-led Worship (video sermon recorded from 8:00 AM)
    • This week Laurel & I will be attending the 8:00 AM service in the Esquire and we’d love for any of y’all to join us there
    • Starting Sunday, November 18th we hope to see all of our Freshwater family at FBC Bolivar for worship; if you need assistance finding your place or rhythm at FBC you can reach out to Dave directly – 417.576.5441 (mobile); dave@freshwaterchurch.tv

Ministry Updates

    • If you are interested in serving some very special families in our community the FBC clothing drive “store” is open this Sunday, November 11th from 2:00-4:00 in the Rec Building (located just west of the main building)
    • National collection week for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is Nov. 12th – 19th. You can drop off boxes at FBC Bolivar
    • The holiday season is upon us and that means it is time to ring the bells for Salvation Army. You can visit: https://www.bolivarcom.org/bellringing for information and schedules to sign-up now
    • I will be sharing an update next week on the staffing consideration process and timeline for Laurel and me. We appreciate your continued prayers and support as we are taking the time to make this process as healthy and effective as it can be for our family, Freshwater, and FBC.

Freshwater, I love you all so very much and am blessed beyond words to be your pastor. I thank and praise God for you daily. If I can serve you in any way at all this week please let me know. For God’s glory and for the advance of the Gospel…

In love,

Pastor Dave

A New Time & Place for Freshwater Church

The following letter was given to all Freshwater Church members and attenders following worship on Sunday, September 2nd.

Freshwater family,

Today marks an important moment in the life of Freshwater Church. Today we move out of the facility that we have called home for the past six and one half years, and we step out into a future that is initially marked by a time of transition but we believe ultimately will result in seeing our mission to glorify God through advancing the Gospel move forward in tremendous ways. I realize that for many today is one of those bittersweet days because we look to our past and our hearts are filled with joy at all that the Lord has done here among us, and we also look to the future with expectant hope and some real questions. Please know that if I, or any of our elders, can minister to you in any way that we definitely want to do that for you; please let us know how we can serve you and your family.

Beginning next Sunday, September 9th, our church will gather for weekly corporate worship at The Esquire Theater in downtown Bolivar from 5:00 – 6:30 PM. The Esquire is owned by FBC Bolivar and is located on Chestnut Street, next door to Ozark Offset Printing, one block north of 3G’s Frozen Custard on the square. There is ample parking located to the side and behind the theater building.

During our time at The Esquire we will provide weekly Pre-k childcare during our service times. Childcare will be located in the FBC main building. Attached to this letter you will find a map that shows the most convenient drop-off location, the closest doors to use, and which rooms our children will be in. You can take your child to their Pre-k room starting at 4:45 each week. We will continue to staff our Pre-k childcare from within our own congregation; if you are interested in serving in the Pre-k rotation please let Amber Tucker or myself know and we can put you into the rotation.

Freshwater Church I love you very much and I believe that the Lord has great things in store for us in the days to come. Transition can be difficult and it is important that we take extra time and attention to love one another well, serve one another, fight for one another, and pray for one another. I believe that together we can see the Lord work in us and through us powerfully even while we are experiencing transition. 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” 

Hebrews 10:24–25

 

This map can be used as a reference for Pre-k Drop-off & Pick-up, as well as Parking, while Freshwater meets at The Esquire

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A Major Update on Freshwater’s Transition & Future

** This statement was read during our weekly worship gathering on August 26th

This morning I want to take a few moments to update everyone on some very exciting developments in the process your elders have been pursuing the last several weeks to join Freshwater with a local partner church as our next chapter of church life and ministry. 

When we first began to explore the possibility of selling our facilities back in April I met with a local pastor to share what God was asking us to consider and what it seemed like the Lord was leading us to do. I told him that if we were to sell our building one of the options we might consider would be a merger that would join our church with a local partner church, and if the Lord were to lead us that direction then we would likely consider your church first among others.

That pastor is Billy Russell and that church is First Baptist Church, Bolivar. 

Over the course of the past three weeks your elders have met with Pastor Billy, key leaders at FBC, the full ministry staff, the fellowship of deacons, and the Church Leadership Council all in separate meetings to present to them this exciting ministry opportunity and to ask the question, “Is the Holy Spirit in this process and this possibility?” Through the course of every successive meeting we have shared our story, our thoughts, our mission, our vision, and our hopes for the future, and the concept of joining our two churches together has been met with hospitality and nothing but unanimous votes from the various ministry and leadership teams at FBC.

These are definitely exciting developments as we continue to work through our transition into the next chapter of Glorifying God and Advancing the Gospel together. I know you probably have many questions and thoughts and we want to hear those in the meeting that we will have shortly after this service dismisses.

Before we get to that though I want to read to you the announcement that is being shared by Pastor Billy during all of the FBC morning worship services today:

“Believing the Holy Spirit has led us to this ministry moment, the Church Leadership Council has unanimously approved the forming of a Steering Committee to further guide the concept and process of Freshwater Church joining First Baptist Bolivar for the furtherance [advance] of the Gospel. This concept was recently brought to the CLC by the Elders of Freshwater with the unanimous support of our Ministry Staff and Fellowship of Deacons. 

I will chair the Steering Cmte. Four of our members will serve with me. We will collaborate with select leaders from Freshwater, designing a process to further study this ministry opportunity. 

At this time no official decision has been made to join these two bodies of believers. Many steps, including a church vote, will be needed. As you can imagine in this early stage of the process, there are many logistical issues yet to be explored and answered. So, please be ever prayerful as this process moves forward. We anticipate a time in the near future for the Elders of Freshwater to share their story with our church and their reasons for this request. We will make those dates and times available when they are known.

Please, out of respect for the brothers and sisters of Freshwater, wait to post this information on social media platforms until later this afternoon. They are also announcing this news and process today. 

Thank you for your prayerful response to this ministry news. May the Lord guide our steps for His purposes of grace through this exploratory process. May He lead us to know and do His will as He reveals it in His time. To God Be the glory!”

I love you Freshwater and I believe whole heartedly that we are walking in step with the Spirit of God as we pursue joining Freshwater and First Baptist. I ask that you stay and discuss this opportunity with us, pray for our church family and for the family of FBC, pray for all of the leaders who will be guiding both churches through this process. Great days are in front of us for the glory of God and for the advance of the Gospel in our city and to the nations. 

With great love for you Freshwater,

Pastor Dave

Family Worship Guide – 02/11/2018

Although we are always saddened when on occasion we have to cancel our Sunday morning worship service we believe that it honors Christ when we look after the well being and safety of those who regularly attend and occasionally visit Freshwater Church.

Since we are not able to meet together this morning due to unsafe driving conditions we encourage each Freshwater family to use this Family Worship Guide and worship the Lord together today. If you can imagine it if we all commit to lead each of our individual families in worship today (let’s say at 10:00 AM or so…) our church family will worship together; we will read the same Scripture, sing the same songs, pray together, and receive the same word from the Scriptures. We can worship together from our own homes.

Moments like these are a certain kind of challenge as we draw strength and encouragement from meeting together, but they also remind us that Christ is our very life, he is the head of the Church, he is worthy of our worship, and he is greater than our circumstances.

Welcome to worship!

Call to Worship

– Read our weekly Call to Worship passage together or have one person read it aloud for everyone…

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB)
Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates. 

 

Worship in Song

– The worship set for this week is available on Spotify:  CLICK HERE

– In this set we will listen to / sing the first three songs

– Or you can use these links to play the song videos on YouTube (click on each song separately):

Swallowed Up Death

Revive Us Again

Come Thou Fount

 

Corporate Prayer

Take some time to pray together as a family. Each week we open up the church on Monday evenings from 6:30-7:00 for a time of corporate prayer. This morning use the prayer guide from this past Monday to pray together as a family. Here is this week’s prayer guide: FRESHWATER WEEKLY PRAYER GUIDE

 

Giving Joyfully

If you would like to keep up your regular giving this week you can give online at our website. We encourage all of our members and regular attenders to prayerfully consider giving regularly joyfully and sacrificially to see the Gospel advanced in our community and around the world. YOU CAN GIVE ONLINE HERE

 

Receive the Word of God

Dhati Lewis is a pastor in Atlanta and a radical disciple maker. In this short message he challenges us to recover the art of hospitality and use our homes for the advance of the Gospel. WATCH HERE

 

Worship in Song

– If you are using Spotify you can return to the playlist using the link above and listen to / sing the final two songs in the play list

– If you are using YouTube you can use the links below:

– Not for a Moment

– In Tenderness

 

Benediction

– Read this week’s benediction together or have one person read it over everyone…

– Colossians 3:16-17

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 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.

Prayer Guide – 2/5/2018

Evening Prayer: February 5, 2018

1. Take a moment of silence to calm and center yourself before God; before you begin to speak to God, first come to Him ready to quiet your heart and to listen. Allow the Holy Spirit to focus your attentions and affections as you begin.

2. Meditate on and consider Psalm 84 —

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! (ESV)

 

3. This week the elders of Freshwater Church are asking for special prayer as we undertake to set out specific plans for Freshwater’s next chapter of church life and ministry. Pray that as we gather together that we would have wisdom from the Lord. Pray that as we seek feedback from the members of Freshwater that we would have ears to hear and that we would be all the more humble and considerate. Pray that we hear from God himself! It is our deepest desire to shepherd Freshwater Church well and we absolutely cannot do that apart from the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pray that the elder council will have unity together and would continuously love and lay ourselves down for the church.

 

4. Take some time this evening to pray for Freshwater and all of our sister churches in our community. Pray that our ministry to our city would embody the full weight of why Jesus came into the world. Pray that we would love people the way that Jesus does. Pray that the joy of the Lord would be evident in the way that we live together as a community of faith across many local churches in front of our city. Pray that the presence of God would fill our worship services. Pray that many will hear the Gospel, and give their lives to Christ. Pray about who you will invite to church this year.

5. Pray Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21. Pray this over our church family here at Freshwater. Pray this prayer over our sister and partner churches. Pray this over the globy Church across all nations.

Ephesians 3:14–21

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)

 

6. Pray on behalf of three specific people, entreating God to act on their behalf, to meet their deepest and most real needs.

 

7. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

Be blessed as you go; know that the work of prayer is a work of eternal significance.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” -Karl Barth

 

A Slip & Fall… What a Wipeout Taught Me About Pastoring

Yesterday I slipped and fell. Hard.

I know in our town and possibly in many others there may have been some questions about whether or not school ought to have been cancelled. Well, I’m with the schools on this one. I’m throwing my support behind better safe than sorry.

I wiped out embarrassingly hard at the top of my driveway on the way back toward my house after starting Kingsley (my 2011 Subaru Outback) to warm the car up. Not to be overly dramatic but this was the kind of fall that happens in an instant and still seems to happen in slow motion. My life did not flash before my eyes, but I was instantly terrified about my back because three and half years ago I suffered a burst fracture of my T12 vertebrae. So now with every winter and the attending snow and ice I feel like I’m playing at a high risk gambit with spine/life. Never mind the fact that due to the pitch of our driveway every time it snows, ices, or sleets the driveway is suddenly transformed into a Olympic-caliber luge (the other day I tried parking Kingsley toward the top of the driveway three times only to slide down to the bottom and that with the parking brake set)!

I landed on my tailbone first and then immediately proceeded to smack the back of my head against the frozen cement resulting in an instant ringing in my ears, shortness of breath, and general disorientation. Oh, and my glasses went flying off somewhere too (since recovered). What followed was I’m certain quite the sight as I stumbled into the house and called out to Laurel to come examine me as I more or less collapsed at the side of our bed. I had (still have…) a substantial goose egg on my head complete with abrasions, some small abrasions on my right hand, and today I’m realizing that I must have gone through some degree of whiplash as well.

Rough stuff to start off an otherwise run of the mill Tuesday morning.

The Bible teaches us that our lives “are a vapor/mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14), and that we should “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I don’t think that I really came anywhere close to dying in my driveway yesterday. In fact, after taking some extra time to rest and recover in the morning after lunch I went on with the rest of my day as close to scheduled as possible. However, there was just enough panic and pain in this experience to remind me that my days are limited and tomorrow (or the rest of today) is never guaranteed to me, as much as the organization and accoutrement of my life may try to get me to believe otherwise.

In our weekly prayer guide for Monday night prayer we asked the church family to pray through the following:

 

This week the elders of Freshwater Church are asking for special prayer as we undertake to set out specific plans for Freshwater’s next chapter of church life and ministry. Pray that as we gather together that we would have wisdom from the Lord. Pray that as we seek feedback from the members of Freshwater that we would have ears to hear and that we would be all the more humble and considerate. Pray that we hear from God himself! It is our deepest desire to shepherd Freshwater Church well and we absolutely cannot do that apart from the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pray that the elder council will have unity together and would continuously love and lay ourselves down for the church. 

 

And then on Tuesday morning I ate it at the top of my driveway.

To be a pastor who has a heart of wisdom I have to understand that my days of shepherding Freshwater Church are numbered, by the Lord. There will come a day, by one mean or another, that I will no longer be a pastor-shepherd to Freshwater Church. I hope and pray that such a day is far from today.

Regardless of when that day is to be a faithful pastor to the church means discipling and training others in such a way that they can take my place and thrive, it means keeping the pastoral office in tune with Jesus and our people to such a degree that another might receive it from the Chief Shepherd and be able to succeed, and it means leading the church in such a way that when that numbered day does come whenever it may be that we can transition well by keeping on with our mission to glorify God and advance the Gospel and flourish together as a family all the while.

I am not there yet. If I had gone home to the Lord in my driveway yesterday, or if the Lord called my family to a new assignment tomorrow we would not be ready. The next pastor nor the church would be in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish in and through transition. I am sorry and I hope for our church family’s forgiveness and partnership as we go forward.

Over the course of the next several weeks the elders will be taking intentional steps to put our church and its leaders, both present and future, in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish. We will be seeking insight and feedback from the members of Freshwater Church and addressing matters of leadership structure, ministry continuity, and most importantly God’s vision for the future of Freshwater Church. We are excited to labor with our entire church family in this effort, and you will be hearing more on this initiative on a Sunday morning very soon. I hope all of our church family will commit to praying for Freshwater and with our leaders as we strive to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In Christ’s Love,

Dave

The Battle of Theologies

Do you ever have those books that you can’t stop reading because of the way they engage your imagination? That’s the way it’s been for me recently as I’ve read through the book of Job. I’m currently on my second read of the book in two weeks, and my mind is filled with more questions and reflections the more I read it. I wanted to share one of the reflections I’ve been having with you, since I think it’s incredibly relevant for us today.

The book of Job is the story of a righteous man who experiences a terrible series of events from the hand of God. Job has a vast amount of wealth (Job 1:3), a large family (1:2), and a devout heart (1:5). During an assembly of God’s angels, Satan (or the Accuser) enters into the meeting. God then asks Satan if he has seen his servant Job during his roaming of the earth, since Job is a man of exceptional integrity, one who “fears God and turns away from evil” (1:8). God then allows Satan to test Job’s righteousness through a series of tests, including the death of Job’s children, the loss of all his wealth, and debilitating sickness. The rest of the book of Job consists of his three friends attempting to “sympathize with him and comfort him” (2:11). Their first action is to simply sit with Job, not speaking a single word because of the weight of Job’s suffering (2:13). Their first fault comes when they start trying to give reason to Job’s suffering.

The rest of the book of Job is a battle of theologies, because Job and his friends debate the true reason for Job’s sufferings. Job is adamant about his own integrity, insisting that he is a righteous person. His friends cannot conceive of a world where a righteous person suffers from the same events that Job experienced. Rather, their belief is that God “repays a person according to his deeds, and he gives him what his conduct deserves” (34:11). The real clincher is that Job’s friends are not wrong (see 2 Corinthians 5:10!), but neither is Job. God announced from the beginning of the book that Job was “a man of perfect integrity” (1:8), so we know that Job is not being punished by God because of his sin.

My point in bringing this up is not to answer the theological/philosophical problem of evil (“If God is all-powerful and all-loving, then why does apparently meaningless suffering occur in the world?”). My desire is to point out that our world is full of competing theologies. We exist in a world where views about God abound, and we are in a constant battle with these competing theologies. Does it really matter what religion a person chooses? Don’t all religions point to the same God and the same salvation? We even struggle with questions that relate to the book of Job. Is God punishing me for my sin whenever I lose my job? Is my terminal illness really evidence of God’s displeasure? These are questions that we face from our culture and our own lives, and there are multiple answers to these questions. The real question is, “Which one of these answers am I going to believe?”

The book of Job teaches us two attitudes that we should have towards the development of our theology in the midst of the multiple theologies that exist. These attitudes work themselves out both in our relationship with God and to other people.

Confidence
Job made a conscious decision to bring his doubts, anger, and hurt to the throne room of God (16:18-22). Even when there was no mediator between Job and God and even when it felt like there was a dark shadow between earth and heaven (23:8-17), Job knew that his questions must go straight to God because man’s wisdom would not suffice. Brothers and sisters, take heart that in the gospel of Jesus Christ we have a firm foundation. We have a God who can handle our deepest fears and questions. We have a God who reigns supreme over all the earth. We have a mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), who gives us free access to God. We have a God who knows suffering because he took the form of a suffering servant named Jesus. This allows us to run to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we can receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

On the horizontal level we have confidence to proclaim our theology to other people. In the battle of theologies, our God has given us answers. Oftentimes, I am tempted to stay silent in theological engagements with non-Christians, thinking that anything I say would be unpersuasive or too pushy. But our God has given us answers. We can boldly proclaim the gospel of God’s goodness and grace to people, knowing that God has given us access to himself through Jesus. So brothers and sisters, proclaim the gospel with confidence, knowing that our suffering God empowers you through his Spirit.

Humility
The book of Job ends with two speeches given by the Lord himself to address Job’s questioning. Much of Job’s tension has been driven by this question throughout the book: “Is God just in the midst of my suffering?” And the answer the Lord gives is a resounding, “Yes” (40:8)! Spoiler alert: because of this answer, Job gets totally humbled. Because even in the midst of great suffering, God is never unjust, and we can never justify ourselves. This is the most humbling fact of life. This can lead any person to the same confession that Job had: “I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted….Therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them; I am dust and ashes” (42:2, 6). In our relationship to God, we can confidently bring all of our doubts and struggles to him, but we must always trust that the Lord is just and capable of doing what he wants. Even when we do not understand why our spouse is suffering from prolonged illness, we are threatened by unemployment, or we are dealing with the death of a family member, the Lord is just.

In theological conversations I am often tempted to feel that I must know every single answer to every single question. I am afraid that a person is going to ask me about an obscure passage from the Old Testament that I haven’t studied very much, and I’m going to have to confess, “I don’t know.” The book of Job frees us up in our theological conversations to be able to confess that very thing, though. When Job’s friends first came to Job, they sat in silence with him for seven days. Those were the best seven days of Job’s mourning, and it’s because at that point both Job and his friends were willing to live in the fact that they didn’t understand why Job was suffering. In fact, the Lord rebukes Job’s friends for not speaking the truth to Job concerning his suffering (42:7)! In the battle of theologies, we must be willing to confess when we don’t know the answer, because sometimes our theological ranting can lead someone into more error than truth. We must have a posture of humility to counterbalance our confidence in God’s presence.

My prayer is that the Lord would help us live in the tension between confidence and humility. My belief is that as we bend the knee before the Suffering Servant and Risen King, we will be able to see that these two postures are one and the same because they are embodied simultaneously in our unblemished King Jesus.

Grace and peace, brothers and sisters.