We Are Thankful!

In case you missed it, these are the videos that we shared in worship this past Sunday.  As you can see, we have alot to be thankful for! Feel free to share with your friends and family!



Neighborhood Block Party 2015 Recap

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While princes and princess managed through the cloudy weather that came the night before Halloween on October 30 2015, a special event was taking place. First Baptist Church’s Neighborhood Block Party was taking place at the home of our very own Meriwethers. Varying games and fun events were planned for the expected superheroes and visiting cats, everything from sizzling hot dogs, to blow up bounce houses that seemed to bring out the kids in even the church’s staff. While turn out started slow at first, it soon picked up once the volunteer members of the church got out on the streets. Thankfully the rain that had been threatening to spoil the event held off just long enough for the block party to end and for clean up to begin. David Jennings, family and children’s minister seemed thrilled with the turnout for the Block Party. “We wanted to reach families that where there and show them God’s love,” said David. “Next year we hope to each even more families.” Most families that stopped by seemed to love the event, especially for all of the kid friendly activities the church put on. On a night of cloudy weather First Baptist Church’s Block Party certainly was a beacon of light, music, fellowship and most importantly an example of the love of Christ.

Thanks to Jamie Dearman for this report!

Top Tweets from the IMB Live Stream

The International Missions Board is undergoing some changes, including an organizational reset and the start of a voluntary retirement incentive. Yesterday, IMB president, David Platt, hosted a live streaming event in which he talked in detail about the steps being taken to move IMB to a financially healthy place in the present so that IMB will be in a financially healthy position for the future.

A replay of the live steam is available.

Using the hashtag #IMBLiveStream, viewers on social media could ask David Platt questions and interact with the stream. Below are some tweets that I thought were worthy of sharing.


















As we move into November, our church will put a larger focus on reaching the nations with the Gospel. Be looking in our bulletins and newsletters for more information on how to pray, give, and go!

Act of Approach – Spiritual Helps


Eternal Father,

It is such amazing love,

that you have sent your Son Jesus

to suffer in my place

and you have given the Holy Spirit to me

to teach, comfort, and guide me,

and you have allowed the ministry of your angels

to surround and protect me.

All of heaven looks upon the welfare of this poor worm.

Please allow your unseen servants

to be all the more active in my life

that I might rejoice all the more as your grace grows in me.

Do not permit your heavenly servants to rest until my earthly conflict is over,

and I stand victoriously on the shores of Heaven.

Do not allow my proneness to evil,

my numbness to good,

and my resistance to your Spirit’s movement

to ever provoke you to abandon me.

May my hardened heart awake your pity, not your wrath,

and if the enemy gains an advantage through my corruption,

let it be seen that heaven is mightier than hell,

and those who are for me are greater than those who are against me.

Rise to my help, O LORD,

and bless me once again with your covenant promises,

Keep me fed in the pastures of your sustaining Word,

as I search the Scriptures to find You there.

If my wandering is corrected with discipline,

enable me to receive it with humility,

to bless your correcting hand,

to understand the purposes of your rebuke,

and to respond quickly by faith and trust in you.

Let all your fatherly actions lead me to see your holiness.

Cause me, when I fall, to sink lower on my knees,

and that when I rise from prayer it may be

to a greater devotion to You and your glory.

May my cross be ever sanctified,

that every loss be gain,

that every denial be a spiritual blessing,

that every dark day be illuminated by Your Spirit,

and that every night of trial be a song to your goodness.



Translation from Valley of Vision, p. 242.

Haiti Mission – Day 1, 2, & 3

Greetings from Croix-des-Bouquets in beautiful Haiti.   The Louisiana Baptist mission team has settled in and worked hard for 2 full days of mission work in the areas of Canaan and Croix-des-Bouquets, which are just outside of Port-au-Prince.  The medical team, VBS team, clean water project team, evangelism team and pastors conference leaders have all been very busy in minisrty and outreach. 

After arriving Saturday afternoon, we made it to our lodging site, Villa Mamika, whch is in the heart of Croix-des-Bouquets. The Chatelain family operates the hotel/lodgiing area and they have gone out of their way to make us feel at home. Sunday we were all up vey early to attend worship with our Haitian brothers and sisters (Sunday school starts at 6AM, so we need not complain too much). I had the opportunity to preach at the Baptist Bible Church (one of many with that name) and the service went very well. There were nearly 40 in attendance, ranging from young children to senior adults. Although I could not understand much of what they said or sung, it was a joy to sit in the presence of God with kindred spirits in the Lord. 

Monday and Tuesday we spilt up all over the area to accomplish what we came here to do.  The medical team set up in Canaan, an area that did not exist prior to the 2010 earthquake. Nearly 1 million people fled the city of Port-au-Prince and settled there over 5 years ago. The needs there are vast and overwhelming. Most of the medical care has been minor issues, although one young lady was rushed to the hospital today in very serious condition. The VBS team for older and younger chlidren is located near a school in Croix-des-Bouquets. The VBS team has ministered to dozens of children each day, and at lunch time they have fed nearly 200 children. The Lord has provided enough food and patience to accomodate each child. The evangelism team is traveling to remote areas outside of Port-au-Prince bringing the gospel to rural communities. We’ve also partnered with a group from Pennsylvania to start a clean water filttration project for homes in the area. These water filters are state-of-the art and proven to work efficiently for up to 10 years. This is an exciting  opportunity to help the people of Haiti obtain clean drinking water, which will eventually cut down on sickness and spread of disease.

I have the privilige of helping to lead the pastors conference, which is actually located at our lodging area. There is a spacious conference room (with A/C!) that has been sufficient to accomodate all of the pastors. It has been a very encouraging time for each of us and we have built some solid relationhships with local pastors. They are encouragiing to us and we pray that we are able to encourage them as well. 

The needs here are numerous and yet the door is wide open for God to work in this country. The poverty here is obvious and widely known, but that is not the primary problem in this land. As it is even in our own beloved country, the problem is lostness and spiritual darkness. Spiritual depravity  does not have a price tag or income level. Whether in affuence or poverty, Satan has set his traps and had captured many people in spiritual bondage. So many are living aimlessly, from day to day, without any kind of hope for today, not to mention hope for tomorrow. The people of  Haiti have felt helpless and witout answers for their struggles for so long now that sorrow and sadness have become deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of the people. This is why they (and we!) so desperately need the gospel. The amazing, life-changing power of the gospel is the only power that can cut through the hopelessness and bring joy to broken  lives.  We are not discouraged, for the LORD GOD reigns! This land is his land, and every square inch of it belongs to him. The fields are ripe for the harvest. Lives are ready to be surrendered to Jesus Christ. Pray for us that we would be bold and that our work will be fruitful for the glory of God. 

– Pastor Oren

Knowing Jesus

friends-267810_640One of my favorite Bible lessons to do with kids (and adults) involves famous people. Let’s try it out now.

You can do this by yourself, but it’s fun to do it with a friend. Think of a famous person, living or dead, famous or infamous. Got it? Answer the questions below! (If you are with someone, ask them the questions and try to guess who they were thinking of!)

  • How would your life be different if you personally knew this person?
  • How would your relationship with this person change your living conditions, free time, or group of friends?
  • Would your friends or parents approve of this relationship? Why or why not?
  • Would you want become more like this person? Explain.

It’s always fun doing this activity with kids and adults. Usually the kids always get in Justin Beiber, and last month when I did this, adults ended up thinking of Donald Trump.

Now here’s the twist…answer the questions above, but this time using Jesus as the famous person.


Here’s another question for you.

  • What’s the difference between knowing about someone and having a relationship with that person?

It’s here that we would dive into 1 John 1:5-2:6 and talk about how do we know that we know Jesus, and how does knowing Jesus change our lives. It gives us a chance to challenge kids (and adults) to think about if they know about Jesus, or do they truly know Jesus.

Philippians 3:8 says, “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”

I am a firm believer in head and heart knowledge. Talking about spiritual knowledge, Charles Spurgeon once said, “An ounce of heart knowledge is worth a ton of head learning.” (See below for the devotional that was taken from.)

I want our kids not only to memorize scripture (head), but to meditate on it (heart). I want them to know why we sing praises (head) and then to sing with all their heart (heart, of course!). I want our kids to know verses about giving (head) and then to live them out by giving in different ways (heart).

In short, I want them to truly know Jesus.

Our kids cannot know Jesus by their parents knowing him alone. As Spurgeon said, “Spiritual knowledge of Christ will be a personal knowledge. I cannot know Jesus through another person’s acquaintance with Him.” As Dale Hudson, a children’s ministry blogger, said, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren. He only has children. A child must own their faith.”

Parents, you are vital at helping your kids understand the Christian faith. God has placed children under the authority of their parents, and it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children how to live a life that is pleasing to God.

Don’t mistake faith for being a genetic trait like hair color or height. It doesn’t work like that. Help your kids dig into their Bibles, help them apply it to their lives, give them opportunities to live it out.

As always, remember that we are always here to help you in this important, amazing task!

Suggested Reading: Charles Spurgeon on Spiritual Knowledge

P.R.E.A.C.H. Puppet Show

Last Friday, the P.R.E.A.C.H. Puppet Ministry from Coteau Baptist Church (Houma, LA) came and shared the good news of Jesus with our families using puppets! PREACH stands for puppets reaching everyone as Christ’s hands. FBCBR has a history of amazing puppet shows, and I’m excited to tell you that our older elementary kids will be preforming for the church soon! Until then, here’s a video of some of the fun we had with the PREACH team!

DARE to Compare

Drug_Abuse_Resistance_Education_DARE_LogoGrowing up, I remember how our school, like 75 percent of American schools, took part in DARE: Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. I remember how police officers would come in once a week and talk to us about different drugs and alcohol, explain what they can do to our systems, and told that we should “just say no!”

DARE was part of my childhood, and I resisted drugs. So I was surprised to read that DARE, as it was when I was growing up, didn’t really work according to some. In fact, some studies suggest that kids in the DARE program during the beginning were more likely to use drugs.

Around 1998, DARE officials started looking into changes, and eventually landed on keepin’ it REAL. And based on an article by Scientific American, it looks to be working.

I’m very much appreciative of those who worked the DARE system when I was growing up, and I am thankful those leaders have made changes to better help kids. So what changed, and how does that relate to what we’re doing as a church/parents looking to train up kids in the ways they should go?


  1. Lecture-Based to Learner-Based

The original DARE model had officers speaking to kids for up to 45 minutes straight, mainly with facts and figures. When starting to look at new material, behavioral scientists looked for, “a hands-on program that would build communication and decision-making skills and let children rehearse these tactics via role play.”

With the new material, instructors only speak for around eight minutes, leaving time for kids to act out different scenarios and practice making tough decisions with their peers.

Richard Clayton, a retired prevention researcher formerly of the University of Kentucky, helped DARE make the change from lecture-based to learner-based materials. “They listened to the notion that comes from the literature that you need to be interactive—not didactic lecturing,” Clayton says. “I think what they’ve done is pretty amazing.”

What does that mean for us?

Look at how Jesus taught. He used things that the people around Him were familiar with (coins, wheat, bread, fish). He asked questions and told stories. He helped people live out their faith (walking on water).

Likewise, we can teach God’s truth by using different techniques (music, drama, journaling, quiet times, games, etc.) that help them digest and retain what they are learning. We can help them discover how to apply Bible truths and live it out in their daily lives.

Parents, read the Bible as a family, then talk with your kids about the truths you just heard. Have kids explain to you what the passage is about or draw a short comic that illustrates the point. Bring the Bible to life for your kids.

  1. Moral Modification to Heart Transforming

“Everyone believed that if you just told students how harmful these substances and behaviors were—they’d stay away from them,” -Frank Pegueros, the current president and CEO of DARE America

On paper, DARE looked great. It was all about building up kids’ self-esteem and helping kids resist peer pressure. But, it had the opposite effect of what was intended.  It was sort of like trying cure the symptoms rather than fix the problem, or in this case say no because that’s what you were taught to say.

So how was REAL different?

“It’s not an antidrug program,” says Michelle Miller-Day, co-developer of the REAL curriculum and a communications researcher at Chapman University. “It’s about things like being honest and safe and responsible.”

REAL took a step back and helped kids think critically and, while not an antidrug program, as helped kids make smart choices. In early trials, REAL students have shown levels of reduced substance abuse and maintained antidrug attitudes.

Now let’s move back to the church and parents. We want our kids to know we shouldn’t lie, we shouldn’t hurt others, we should do this or that…but our goal isn’t behavior modification. Tiffany Francis, from Lifeway Kids, talks about this on the CentriKid camp blog.

“We believe everything we do should not simply teach kids good behavior or morals, but it should cause them to encounter Christ so that He can transform them,” Francis shares. “Behavior modification can be a burden, and kids have a hard time understanding what freedom in Christ can look when we focus on forming behavior instead of transforming the heart. It is only through the cross, through Christ redeeming us that our hearts can be changed. We must focus on heart transformation through Christ and not simply moral behavior modification.”

Each lesson we do with the kids, we try to connect to the cross as quick as possible. Without Jesus, teaching kids not to lie is just for moral sake. Parents, as you raise your children and help them learn right from wrong, remember to always connect back to Jesus and the gospel.

  1. Don’t be Afraid of Change.

So during DARE’s lifespan, there were a lot of studies done that showed the program didn’t work. So why did it take so long to make changes? Some suggest parents loved it because they believed their kids were being taught drug prevention (I wonder how many avoided talking to their kids about drugs thinking the school systems were taking care of it?) Politicians supported the program because parents loved it and they didn’t want to lose votes.

A legislator told the New York Times in 2004, on the condition that his name not be used, ”No one’s going to risk their political future by doing anything other than standing up with the parents. Parents vote.”

We can’t be afraid of change.  I’m reminded of the story of the woman who always cuts the end off of hams before cooking. When asked why, she explained her mother always did it that way. Asking her mother, she explained that her mother had always done it that way. Getting to the grandmother, she explained that she doesn’t know why her daughter or granddaughter cuts the ends of hams, but she does it because her pan is too small.

God’s truth hasn’t changed, you’re not going to find a better gospel. But, the ways we can reach the people and families God has put in our lives has. The church doesn’t need to be afraid of change, but in all things look to God for guidance. Similarly, parents…don’t be afraid of change. Start doing a family prayer before school.  Plan a family mission day. Read the Bible and have kids act out the passage with toys. Keep growing in faith in new and fresh ways.


One of the best memories I have of DARE when I was in school was how police officers came into the classroom to talk with us. I remember thinking that having the officer there was a big deal. Looking back, I’m thankful that the school system and police department were willing to work together to try and help me and others like me. That teamwork was something DARE did right.

We believe that God has placed children under the authority of their parents, and it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children how to live a life that is pleasing to God. We seek to affirm what children are being taught at home, according to the truth of God’s Word. Thank you for teaming up with us as you bring up your children. Let’s work together to show them God’s great love!

Are You Abiding in Christ?

12003984_10154274231750476_7361772779431152739_nI recently returned from KidMin, a children’s ministry conference. It’s always a blast connecting with others that share a similar calling as you, and when that calling is reaching kids for Jesus, you know it’s going to be a fun time.

The theme for this year was abide, with a focus on John 15:1-17.  The conference used yarn to represent vines. All over the conference, and even in the logo, you could see the yarn serving as a reminder of the True Vine.

So, what does it mean to abide in Christ?

To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain. So to abide in Christ is to know and follow Jesus (1 John 2:5-6). More than just checking a box, abiding is personal. Like a branch on a vine, we’re connected, in a living/growing relationship, yet we’re totally dependent on the vine.

The vine comparison reminds us that we can’t bear any fruit on our own, it’s all from the Vine. Yes, we’ll need to be pruned from time to time (see verse 2). But it’s a loving cut to help us bear more fruit.

Next time your family eats some grapes, pull out your phone and do a Google Image search for grape vine. Show your kids how the vine connects the branches, and through the vine, the branches are able to produce fruit.

If your kids have already made a decision to follow Jesus as Lord, talk to them about John 15:10 or 1 John 4:13 and what abiding in Christ means.

If your kids are starting to ask questions, remind them that the branches are united with the vine and read Romans 6:5 to them. (Here’s a simple outline for you to use if your child want to know more about becoming a Christian.)

Suggested reading:

What does it mean to abide in Christ?

What is it to abide in Christ?

Learning to Abide in Christ

What will one answer the messenger of the nation? The Lord has founded Zion, and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” – Isaiah 14:32

I’ve been studying the book of Isaiah over the past several weeks and it has been such an incredible blessing to read and study chapter by chapter this beautiful revelation of God and his redeeming love. When I came to Isaiah 14:32, God said to me “Stop! Read it again.” And so I did. He said to me “Read it again, and listen to ME speak.” And so I did. And I read it a third and fourth time and I’ve read it many times more since that day. As I write this short word of encouragement, please understand the depth of this great truth: God is actively working to save, sustain, and sanctify His people for the glory of his name. What’s more is that every circumstance believer’s face is working toward that ultimate goal as well. The book of Isaiah is written to this end and in it we find the great revelation of God’s judgment against the sin of his people tied to the abundant grace of God to sustain his “remnant’ who will carry out his work in this world. At the center of it all is Jesus, who is the Holy One established in Zion as the King of Kings and to whom all the afflicted in this life can run and find refuge. (Psalm 5:11, 73:28, Zephaniah 3:12, Hebrews 6:18)

A little contextual background on Isaiah 14:32 will help us greatly. Isaiah’s prophecy comes at a dark time in Israel’s history, as they are facing the threat of destruction from Assyria to the North. Already, Isaiah has prophesied the future destruction of Babylon (Isa. 14:1-23), as well as the fall of Assyria (Isa. 24-27), who is a “Babylonian type of empire”, who mocks God and oppresses His people. No nation that rejects the Lord God will stand, and both Assyria and Babylon would one day face the wrath of God.  By his sovereign choice the Lord God uses unbelieving nations and empires to correct and refine his people, as HE preserves and sustains his remnant who will ultimately glorify his name (Isa. 10:2-22). The Assyrians to the north were pressing into Judah, threatening to destroy them. The wicked and faithless king Ahaz has disgraced the Davidic line of kings and the once proud Judah is no longer relevant in the eyes of the nations. The Philistines, having once pushed back the Assyrians, will once again face the full wrath of the bloodthirsty empire (Isa. 14:29). So, Philistia turns to Judah to form an alliance against Assyria, their common enemy. Yet the Lord declares through Isaiah that their alliance is with Him, not pagan idolaters. God promises that those who are established in Zion will be safe, and all the afflicted of God will find a place of peace and safety on Zion.

Zion represents the presence and authority of God. Those who are surrendered to God will find hope in the midst of sorrow and peace in the midst of turmoil. The “messengers of the nations” will come to call God’s people into a partnership, yet there is no partnership to be had with those who reject God and who worship false gods. The people of God have always been and always will be safe by faith in God alone. Even those who are severely afflicted will find a true place of refuge in God. I know the word “afflicted” is a strong word, but I believe it is accurate. We are people who are often afflicted by the pressures of life happening all around us.

The Christian life is not, as some would say, “all doom and gloom”. I firmly believe the life we have in Christ is one of joy, peace, and gladness. The most effective Christian witness comes from a believer who is “happy in the Lord.” But we also must be honest with ourselves and our condition; there is much that afflicts us in this life, whether it is from our own sinful pursuits and poor choices, or perhaps another person’s actions have harmed us, or even those instances where something unexpected has occurred and no person is really responsible.  The promise we read in Isaiah 14:32 gives us a clear and hopeful outlook: the people of God who have been afflicted, hurt, damaged, and defeated in this life have a place to go to find true peace. This “place” has more to do with a person than an actual building or location. The refuge we need is “founded upon Zion”, the place that signifies the sovereign rule of God’s Son, Jesus. In Christ Jesus we find freedom and joy and a release from the burdens we carry from our anxieties and concerns in how we will save ourselves (1 Peter 5:7).

Jesus promises us rest from all of that stuff (Matthew 11:28-30). He is all that we need (2 Corinthians 12:9). Do you have sorrows? Run to the refuge of Christ your Savior today, the one who bore all your sorrows on the cross. Do you have regrets and fears? Run to Jesus right now, the one who paid for those regrets and who calms your fears. Is there and pain and shame in your life? Run to the great and glorious refuge in Jesus; the one who heals your pain and who took all your shame upon himself in order to set you free and give you rest (Hebrews 12:2, Isaiah 61:7). Yes, the good news of the gospel really is THAT GOOD! Jesus is our refuge, where all of the afflicted in this world can find peace.


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