Feb 242015

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Hebrews 10:36 (ESV)

What occurs every four years and is just as popular, if not more so, than the Olympics? You guessed it: the World Cup. The World Cup is an international soccer tournament with 32 countries participating. Nations compete over a long period of time to qualify for this soccer (football) tournament, years of work culminating in a 64-game tournament watched by the world. In 2010, it was estimated that 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of the World Cup. Over 1 billion people watched the final match between Spain and the Netherlands in 2010. The event with the largest viewership in history was the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The sport of soccer has been a big part of my life since the age of 8. I played in high school and college and have even played on teams as an adult. I have coached teams for many years and I am presently the new middle school girls coach for Union County.

The objective of a soccer game is really simple: score more goals than the other team! Playing it, however, takes years of practice, coordination, skill, touch, and yes, endurance and speed. A team will not finish very well if they lack endurance. During a soccer match, a player runs anywhere from 4-7 miles, depending on his/her position. A soccer player runs virtually non-stop for 90 minutes. When I played, I happened to have one of those positions that ran about the 7 mile mark. Why would anyone put themselves through that much torture, you might ask? Score one goal for your team and you’ll understand why! There is something amazingly addicting about putting the ball in the back of the net. You want to do it over and over again. The training becomes a joy and not drudgery. One wants to get better and better so that one can score more often.

In the text above, the writer to the Hebrews exhorted these believers to remember the days in their early Christian experience when they faced many trials. They endured hard struggles with suffering (v. 32), publicly humiliated and afflicted. Some were treated as criminals and were thrown in prison. Christian brothers and sisters risked the plundering of their property to provide for and care for those in prison. You must remember that the Romans didn’t provide 3 meals a day, showers, weight benches, TV’s, and air conditioning. Any meals these believers received came from caring brothers and sisters in Christ.

These early believers endured these hardships since they knew they had a better possession and an abiding one: They were looking to the real goal – heaven! This is why the writer to the Hebrews tells them in verse 35-36, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God (that is, lived your life of faithfulness to God until the end), you may receive what is promised (the completion of their salvation in heaven).

Do you need endurance today? I do. For one, I can’t run like I did 25 years ago in a soccer match; but secondly, I have many struggles that are difficult to fight. Sometimes I simply want to throw in the towel. So I need this word from Hebrews because I need endurance too. Holy Father, please help us to keep our eyes on the only goal that matters. Grant to us enduring grace. I am so thankful that your people are not of those that shrink back and are destroyed (v. 39). You preserve and keep your own in your mighty hand. Amen.

Watch a World Cup match, even if you care nothing about soccer, and notice the endurance of the players. It really is amazing how they run. Let us fix our eyes on the prize and run with endurance the race set before us.

Running for the GOOOAAAALLLLLLLL! (That’s how the announcers of a soccer match say “goal” – they just stretch it out a little more!)

Pastor Bill

Feb 172015

“Our God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come. Our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.”
“Under the shadow of your throne your saints have dwelt secure. Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”
Our God Our Help in Ages Past – from Isaac Watts’ setting of Psalm 90, 1719.

Back in the late 1990’s, a great Reformation began in the mountains of Georgia. In an area where Arminianism and Revivalistic teaching abounds, God began to unveil the eyes of many to the shallowness and man-centeredness of those doctrines and God was causing them to see the glories of the Doctrines of Grace. Who would have ever thought it? Can you believe that a church like Redeemer came into being in an area where virtually no one knew of the Doctrines of Grace (i.e. Calvinism)?

Under different circumstances, God was working in the hearts of many and a vision for a Reformed Baptist church in the mountains was born. God did this! My friend Jeff Robinson came to see the Doctrines of Grace through Tom Nettles’ book, By His Grace and for His Glory. God moved Daryl and Rachel Allison to Dahlonega where they attended a church that taught the Doctrines of Grace. Both Rachel and Daryl and Jeff Robinson helped lead me to solid biblical teachers that helped me understand Calvinism. My wife then soon followed. For several years then I began to teach the Doctrines of Grace in the context of an Arminian church.

There were others becoming reformed. They were: Doug and Rebecca Collins, Jeremy Smith, Jim and Melissa Smith, Jim and Ginny Smith. While I was away in seminary, the core group of RBC was being formed. Long story short, RBC has met every Lord’s Day since late August of 2009 (except for a few snow days!).

Early in 2010, the Lord brought Wally and Jeanne Roderick and Michael and Jen Roderick to us. God used Grace Redeemer Fellowship to connect many people to Redeemer Baptist. Michael was hired shortly thereafter to lead music for us. All along the way the Lord continued to grow us. Several began to come from Cherokee County, Towns County, and Fannin County. To date, we have 31 members and 8 regular attenders!

Planting a reformed Baptist church has not been an easy task but God has blessed us in so many ways. And God has done great things through us in five years. Let me just mention a few: God used us to build an addition to Jim and Melissa’s home for their son. We also were able to purchase a van for them. We have participated financially in many mission trips as well as contributed to the Lottie Moon fund. We are reaching many through WeCare, our caregiver ministry. Our connection with the Notla River Association has opened many doors for us to minister in the community. RBC is known as a faithful contributor and participant in our local association. We have consistently supported the Gideon ministry. We presently support Pastor Greg Matthei in South Africa. It has also been wonderful to see children being born to us, both physically and spiritually. God provided miraculously for us through Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville in July of 2012. Yes, God has been our help in ages past and I know He will be our help for years to come!

I am so thankful to witness our harmony and love one for another. I am so thankful for the hunger that RBC has for the Word of God. I love to see your hospitality in having people over to your homes and in preparing meals for those that need them. If I have neglected to mention anything or anyone from the early stages, please forgive me. You are all special to me. Let us continue in fervent prayer and let us not give up the fight for our desire to see a reformed Baptist church flourish in this area. God is not done with us yet!

Praising our faithful God,
Pastor Bill