Category Archives: Baton Rouge

Unwrapping Christmas

Our church has a focus on family ministry. We want to encourage parents to be spiritual leaders for their children and equip moms and dads to teach their children Biblical truths.

So, when we do our annual Easter and Christmas devotionals, we try to do a family-friendly version as well. (You can check out our Christmas 2016 devotional here.) The theme for our latest Advent devotional was “God’s Greatest Gift.” We looked at God’s greatest gift, Jesus, and how He exemplified the spiritual gifts God bestows on us.

For our family edition, we wanted to give families a chance to do interactive object lessons that corresponded to each week’s gift. To keep with the theme, we wrapped each week’s objects as if they were presents. Each family received two of the gifts each week. One to take home and use, and the other to give to a friend. (We made the lessons to be self-contained, so visiting families wouldn’t be stuck with a partial lesson.)

Each Sunday, after church, we had families taking two gifts each and some other members taking gifts to give to neighbors/friends/relatives. But I know not everyone got a chance to look into the gifts and see what families got to experience! So in this post, I wanted to share what was inside each gift! If you missed out on the fun, consider grabbing a few of these items and trying them out yourself!

Week 1- Mercy

buddha-board-demonstration

Seen here, is the Budda Board sold by Vat19. Using water you can draw on the canvas and the marks will fade over a few minutes. We were able to give families some special paper that reacts to water in the same way, as well as a few paintbrushes.

We explained what mercy and sin were, then asked families to write or draw an example of sin on the special paper using water. We reviewed Romans 6:23 and explained how Jesus was a gift of God’s mercy. Looking back at the paper, the sin marks would be gone by this point. Parents could then connect the activity to the included gospel presentation.

 

612klt1wvhl-_sl1000_We also included these mega-sized jelly balls. These things grow just by putting them in water and waiting(you may remember us using their smaller-sized forms at the Neighborhood Block Parties). After reading Matthew 5:44, we used these to illustrate how we can grow spiritually when we show mercy. As a bonus, you can roll these jelly balls on the water paper and they leave a trail. It was a fun way to end, thinking about what kind of trail are we leaving behind? As Christians, what sort of mark should we leave behind?

 

 

Week 2 – Service

We started our second week with a look at Matthew 20:28 as we explained how Jesus was the ultimate example of service with love. We explained to families how Jesus even gave his life for us and even included a section where families could go deeper into the gospel and explain it in a child-friendly way for those who’ve never heard it presented.

We also looked at Romans 12:11, “Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.” (NIRV). We explained how God wants His followers to serve together, and how we we’re all made with different skills and talents to serve in different ways.

419tazrqlslEach family got a pair of mini-hands to take turns using them. They challenged each other to do simple things like lift a salt shaker, change the tv channel, or…(if they were really brave) take a sip of water from a cup. Later they tried working together (two people each with one tiny hand). We asked families to talk about how easy or hard it was to work together with your tiny hands? What are the benefits and challenges of working together with others to serve? And why do you think God made us all with different skills, gifts, and talents?

 

 

mx423Families also received a ribbon wand to play with. These ribbons, when twirled, make really cool designs. It can look like a bubble if spun around, or a flower if flipped upside-down. But, if the wand only had one ribbon, it couldn’t make those cool images. We asked families to think about ways they could work together to help others see God’s love. We wended the experience with prayer and a look at Galatians 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

 

 

Next post, we’ll go over the other gifts we presented to families!

Sneak Peak at Masterpiece Kids 2016

Summer is right around the corner and it’s time to get hyped for MK16! I wanted to share with you a little of what we’ve been working on, what to expect, and how you can sign up to join us! Check out this FAQ!

What is Masterpiece Kids?

The most awesome thing ever.

Okay…can you tell me more?

Masterpiece Kids is our summer arts camp for kids who have completed kindergarten through the sixth grade. This will be our 5th year hosting the camp! We help kids understand different art techniques and styles with really cool projects. And we don’t stop at the canvas…we make, mold, sing, sign…we even used mops to slosh paint on a giant canvas one year.

Sounds messy…

That’s not a question, but I’ll respond anyhow. Creating a masterpiece can be messy at times! That’s why everyone gets their own t-shirt to wear over their clothes as a smock.  Kids get to take them home after camp, so they usually try to get their friends to sign them on the last day of camp. I got the kids to sign mine…see?

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What’s this year’s theme?

Around the World! We’ll be exploring different cultures and art that can be found in God’s great big world! We’ll be talking about missions and hearing from people that serve in different countries. It’s a world tour without leaving Baton Rouge!

How will the art and theme connect to the Bible?

Glad you asked!

Our theme verse is Ephesians 2:10. We’re God’s masterpiece and He has a plan for our lives. We’ll be looking at God’s plan of salivation and how Christians are called to love and serve others. Check it out!

Day 1 God’s Plan for John (Luke 1:5–20, 30–45,57–66; Matthew 3:1–3)

The Point: God created me for His plan. I am created for a reason.

Daily Verse: Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

Day 2  Matthew Needed a Savior (Matthew 9:9–13)

The Point: God sent Jesus to save me from my sins. I am in need of a Savior.

Daily Verse: John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”


Day 3
Jesus Showed Love (John 11:1–45)

The Point: God shows His love in mighty ways. I am loved by God.

Daily Verse: Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Day 4 Lydia Used Her Gifts (Acts 16:11–15)

The Point: God wants me to serve Him. I am gifted with a purpose.

Daily Verse: 1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

 

Day 5 Philip Spoke to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26–40)

The Point: God is with me all the time. I am always on mission.

Daily Verse: Colossians 3:17 “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.”

 

Each day we’ll visit a new part of the world and new art style. For example, on Day 1 we talk about how God formed us and knows us from the inside out…so we’ll be visiting the land down under, Australia, for some X-Ray art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our music will also include different languages as well!

What else is new this year?

We’ll be supersizing our art classes so we spend more time on our projects. With that, we’ll also be bumping up the start and end times. We’ll dismiss at 12:15, but we’re providing a lunch for kids from 12:15 to 12:45. Parents can pick their kids up and do lunch on their own, or come at 12:45 and pick up their kids fully fed!

Sounds awesome!

I told you so.

How can I sign up my kids to come? How can I volunteer?

Just click on this link: fbcbr.com/masterpiece-kids

Why do something like this?

We see a need in our city for arts education. Combine that with our mission to serve and spread the good news of Jesus, and this is a perfect fit for us.

I’ll leave you with this video (staring the father of our very own Sarah Hunt!). Although we don’t call it VBS, we’re still committed to reaching out to our community’s kids and sharing Jesus with area families.

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!

Restoration Church VBS 2015

What an amazing week! For the second year, we’ve teamed up with Restoration Church in Donaldsonville to help put on an amazing Vacation Bible School. A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who came and gave their time and talent and prayers! Seeds were planted and I’m excited to see what God has in store for those young people.

Here’s just a brief look at Restoration Church, their mission field, and the work God did this week:

And here are some more pictures of all the action!

Over a year ago, the church was told that the building they currently occupy would be sold. Pastor Jamie asks that you pray for clarity and direction when and if the time comes to have to make some decisions. But, like the kids discovered this week, they know God has the power to provide any resources they might need!

Thank you, Restoration Church, for allowing us to work with you to spread the gospel in our area!

Our Future Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

This morning Oren, Jason, and I were able to attend the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District meeting, which is focused on sharing the news of upcoming developments in downtown life. There were reports of new construction, of old buildings being renovated, of upcoming events and concerts, etc. But one of the most exciting things discussed at the meeting was the development of a “greenway,” a designated walking and bike path with green space and plant life around it. Along with the greenway—which was just completed through Expressway Park and is in the works for East and North Boulevards—other playground and basketball court improvements were officially opened at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Expressway Park this morning. All in all, the DDD and BREC members who were presenting this morning were excited to talk about the future of Baton Rouge’s space in and around downtown.

In the air there was genuine excitement over the future of city developments and parks and business and restaurants and restored buildings and—ultimately—life around downtown. There was a sense of hopefulness, an air of “things haven’t always been great, but we’re going to make them better, one step at a time.” And as a resident of Baton Rouge and an employed member of the downtown workforce, I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I found myself caught up in the excitement and the hope of it all.

While walking to the Ribbon cutting, Bro. Oren saw a sign for something called “Genesis 360,” and made a comment about Genesis 3 and the Garden of Eden. It was half joke and half commentary, but his comment was basically, “Ever since the angel came and guarded the entrance to the Garden in Genesis 3, we’ve been trying to rebuild and recreate that perfect place.” It was a nice quip in light of the morning’s events, but it resonated with me. Isn’t that what we do as humans? Aren’t we so quick to latch on to hope, to imagine how great things could possibly be, to dream of a future as perfect as our collective past in the Garden?

I think it stuck out to me so much because in the end, we do have a hope. We have a hope greater than any new business or new park or new green space could ever bring. As Peter says here in 1 Peter 1, we have a “new birth into a living hope.” Our inheritance, our future place with Christ, can never perish. It’s not in danger, it can’t spoil or fade. One of the reasons there’s so much excitement about new development in Baton Rouge is because the future of our city is not permanent. We can work to make it better, yes, but if we don’t it could just as easily fall apart. Just as easily as we can rejoice in development and life our dreams can turn to disrepair and death.  But as Christians, our hope is 100% secure. How much more should we celebrate then! How much more should we revel in this hope, in this security! Like Peter says, praise be to God for this hope!

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Together for God’s Glory

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For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

        Together for God’s Glory! During the month of September, those who gathered with FBC Baton Rouge spent some time each week walking through the scriptures as we sought to learn the importance of church membership and all the ways we as Christians are called to join with a local body of believers to worship God and serve one another. I believe church membership is vitally important in the life of any man or woman who professes faith in Christ Jesus. Uniting with a local church is for our own good, as the church provides teaching, training, correction for our lives as well as providing a place for us to organize ourselves to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ and the larger community. The church consists of people from many different walks of life: rich, poor, young, old, parents, singles and children, all from different towns, states, and countries. There is nothing quite like the body of Christ.

As the apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 12, he is addressing a local church which has endured divisions over moral and theological issues. As he has sought to correct their thinking and behavior, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are all members of one body; the body of Christ. Jesus died to makes us one (Ephesians 4:4-7), calling us all to work together (there’s that word again) with the gifts that God has given each of us for the advancement of the gospel. The church is not a collection of individuals who remain concerned about their own personal agendas; rather we are to all be concerned about the same things: loving God and loving one another for God’s glory (one body!). The church is the means which God has chosen to proclaim the gospel, making his church those who represent Jesus in the world. So the purpose of God’s church is to tell and show the world who Jesus really is and how he came to save sinners.

The way that we represent Christ in this world is to meet together regularly, to study God’s Word, sing, pray, break bread, give, serve and challenge one another together, as we are sent out into the world to live as Christ lived and share with others the love of God (Acts 2:42-47). In light of this glorious purpose as one body united under the covenant with Christ, Paul tells the Corinthians that everyone who is a professing, covenant member of God’s church (Ephesians 2:11-22) is essentially dependent upon one another as we all depend on God to sanctify us by his power (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Church unity transcends age, ethnicity, language, background, social status, financial success, educational achievement, and chosen occupation. There is no other place like the church, and there is no other place like OUR church.

By no means have we arrived. There are still many areas of weakness and growth that we must seek to address. After nearly 140 years, FBC Baton Rouge still has much growing to do. This growth comes by confession and repentance of our sin, genuine prayer, faithful obedience to God’s Word, committed discipleship, and service to one another and to our community. But I am so very grateful that I have the privilege to serve and lead a church congregation that appreciates the uniqueness of God’s church. I love that so many of the members of FBC BR are genuinely concerned about the health and witness of their church, and I know that they are committed to do whatever it takes to see our church family grow into a healthy body of Christ followers. When I am asked by other pastors, “How are things going at FBC?” I always respond, “God has been good to us. He is making us a healthy church, little by little, all for his glory.” We truly are one body. May God give us the grace each day to be that united, representative of Christ in the world.

The City and The Vision

The most beautiful works of art in the world began as only ideas in the minds of great artists. Many of those artists had yet to achieve “greatness” as the world defines it, but in their minds each artist had a vision for what could be; so they pursued it. Michelangelo had an idea of what he was going to paint on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, but it wasn’t until he began painting that the masterpiece began to take shape. He could have spent hours, days, and weeks describing in great detail what he desired for the final product to look like, and all those who listened with vivid imagination would have thought “wow, that ‘sounds’ beautiful.” But only when paint was finally applied and the project completed could they say with certainty “Amazing! Breathtaking! A masterpiece!” And along the way, the great visionary artist made adjustments to his work, while keeping the original vision in mind and leaving room for more inspiration.

When an architect develops a beautiful plan on paper for a functional but aesthetically pleasing office building, her vision can be seen, but it will not be fully realized until the construction is complete. The two dimensional drawings only give a glimpse of what the three dimensional structure will look like. It may be a beautiful glimpse, but it is only a glimpse. Only when the construction is completed can the full work be appreciated. And as the process of construction is underway, that very same architect might be inspired (or forced!) to make changes to the plan to address needs or problems with the design. But the overall vision remains the same, and she is driven to see it through to completion.

As we begin to identify the call God has placed upon our church family as a church “for the city” of Baton Rouge, I feel that our work, while only beginning, is one of great vision. It is God’s vision, and it is no doubt a big vision for what we are commissioned to do according to his word and will to bless our city and to seek the good of our city. But the bigness of that vision is not what concerns me; it’s the incremental adjustments we must make along the way to be effective in fulfilling the vision while remaining faithful to God and good stewards of His resources.

When I read Jeremiah 29:4-7, I can’t help but think about all of the Jewish captives of Babylon who were likely dealing with bitterness, sorrow, and anger issues as they were marched from the safety and comfort of their homes into a foreign, pagan land with no hope for rescue or reprieve. Yet in his divine and sovereign wisdom and grace, God sends his people a letter of hope through the prophet Jeremiah; one that would give them exactly what they needed to “endure” for the sake of God’s name. The hope was not only that God would deliver them after 70 years of slavery (v.11), but that they would prosper in the place where he sent them (v.5-6). By seeking the welfare, or “shalom” of their new Babylonian home (v.7), God would bless them with joy and gladness (v.10). Along the way, particularly on the bad days when their captors were especially harsh, there would be necessary adjustments to be made in both heart and mind, refocusing the people on what God had already promised: blessing today and deliverance soon to come. And as those incremental adjustments were made, that vision began to take shape and the final product was realized more and more as each year passed. This is my great hope: That our church family will take hold of the vision God has given us to seek the Shalom, or “just peace” of our city, and that we would have the faith to trust that God will lead us to make whatever adjustments necessary to see that vision come to fruition. I pray that we have the faith to trust him and follow him where he leads.

We are going to settle our hearts and minds on downtown Baton Rouge, and we will not ignore the culture around us nor will we neglect the needs of those persons right outside our doors. We will seek the welfare of our city by reaching out to the broken lives of the community while offering our support and prayers for the artists, entrepreneurs, residents, businessmen and businesswomen, and community leaders of downtown Baton Rouge. This earth is not our permanent home, but this is where we are now and this is where God has us planted. So we will seek his will to grow right where he has planted us, praying that God would bless us with the fruit of our labors all for his glory. “We Are Downtown”: This is where we are, and this is who we will be.

We have only seen a glimpse of what is come, yet we will continue to work and make adjustments along the way, knowing that one day, the Lord God will reveal to us the completed work, which he has done for the glory of his name. For more on the vision of FBC for the city of Baton Rouge, join us Sunday, August 26 at 6:00 PM as we revisit our vision. We will affirm what God has done and evaluate where we need to work harder to fulfill what He has place before us.

Check out the mission and vision of FBC Baton Rouge in detail at www.fbcbr.com

WE ARE DOWNTOWN


This phrase has 2 intended meanings. First, and most obviously, FBC Baton Rouge is located in downtown Baton Rouge (on the corner of 5th and Convention). You might say that’s probably unnecessary to mention, and you may be right, (although we like that you know where we are). But that is not the full meaning of this blog’s title. Our church family is not only located downtown, but we desire to identify ourselves with the downtown community. While our congregation is made up of people of all ages and backgrounds who live in many different parts of our city, we all desire to see FBC have the greatest impact on our neighbors and local community. As a corporate body, our neighbors and local community are those residents and businesses in the downtown area. So, to use a play on words, WE ARE DOWNTOWN.

For the Good of Our City

Part of the vision of FBC Baton Rouge is to be a church that seeks the renewal of our city through service, outreach, and cultural influence. We do not desire to take a stance that is always opposed to the culture as much as we want to stand for the truth of the gospel in the midst of the culture. We are a church for the city of Baton Rouge because we love her and desire to see her flourish. We believe the city is the place that not only creates culture, but also proclaims cultural ideas and philosophies that influence all people and communities. So if we are located downtown, and if we are committed to the downtown community, then we will seek to identify with downtown Baton Rouge and speak the gospel into the culture. From the residents, to businesses, to restaurants, to the arts and entertainment culture, we want to have a gospel-fueled impact on all aspects of Downtown Baton Rouge.

Rooted in Scripture

The Biblical foundation for this is found in the book of Jeremiah 29, where the prophet of God is commanded to write a letter to the people of God concerning their recent captivity in Babylon. In his grace, God called his people to remain faithful to Him, even while in a foreign land and in a foreign culture. God’s plan for his people was to make wherever they lived a better place. And so, in Jeremiah 29:7 we read what God commanded his people to do: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

We have the God given mandate and privilege to “seek the welfare of our city”. And our prayer is that in that grace-filled effort built on love and mercy, we will find much peace and renewal in our city for the glory of God who has graciously called us to this task. C.S. Lewis once said “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” As Christians, we admit that this world is not our permanent home. But while we are here, we want to seek the good of our city for the glory of our God.