by: John Rinehart
Dear friend, January, 2021
As we begin the new year may we all take a fresh look at our spiritual walk and ask the Lord to lead us to a closer relationship to Himself. Our prayer is that Lester Baptist Church will fulfill Christ’s purpose for local churches as seen in Ephesians 4:11-13:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
There is an awful lot to unpack in a passage like this, yet it highlights some important ideas for all churches. Notice how many times the word “body” appears. A local church is to be a “body” – just like our physical bodies would not function well with our parts separated, neither will our church. Also “the work of the ministry” – this phrase can easily be applied only to the leaders in verse 11, but that would be a mistake. The role of the leadership is to perfect (or equip) the saints to do the work of the ministry. We assemble together to hear the word preached, to worship the Lord in song, to pray and to encourage one another. All for the purpose of being better equipped for the work of the ministry in the circles and circumstances that God has placed us in all week long. God help us avoid the mistake of thinking that “ministry” is for the pastor, because ministry is for every member.
2020 has been a memorable year for our church – maybe for reasons that we would rather forget, but memorable nonetheless! Way back in March, the church called me to pastor. Our family remains very grateful for the call and we are excited about what God will do in the days to come. The return to “in person” services in May was special after we had to endure several weeks of online only services. The Lord has answered prayer regarding medical needs Milburn Rinehart (Dad) especially with the need that was resolved by stints instead of open heart surgery. Speaking of open heart surgery, the Lord brought Brian Smith through as well. We all rejoiced when Arnold Mounts came off his sickbed to attend church a few times in the fall. Having 8 students from ABC attend out church this year also brought a bit of a change to the look of the services. Please make it a special matter of prayer that we can be a help to these students as they train. Two positive changes brought on by the pandemic were the church website (lesterbaptist.com) and an updated Facebook page. Sermons are posted in mp3 format in the website and you can catch livestream of the services on Facebook. If you have not already done so, consider giving the church a good review on the platforms that you frequent – those kind of reviews seem to matter more and more. And of course, invite your friends to listen and consider sharing Lester Baptist online. Similarly, we began an account with Tithe.ly to accommodate online giving, try it out and see how easy it is. In November, we hosted Evangelist John Van Gelderen for four days of special meetings. You can find his sermons on the website. He was a blessing to us and we hope to schedule him to come back soon. December seemed to fizzle as we experienced some Covid19 in members of the church. We are thankful to God that as far as we know, there was no transmission of the virus from church attendance. If you missed the Christmas music night be sure to watch on Facebook (December 20 PM) A ladies fellowship time began meeting on Wednesdays at 6 PM – we hope that all of the ladies in the church will try to attend. I am sure there are other blessings that come to mind as you think about the year in the ministry of our Church.
Our word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia.” The Greek word basically means “a called out assembly.” Practically, this requires that churches actually assemble together. The Pandemic of 2020 (and beyond) has certainly given all of us pause about our social interactions and there are real concerns for those who are vulnerable and for those who love those who are vulnerable. How does this look for a Christian who wants to follow our Lord’s admonition to “forsake not the assembling ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25)? Of course, we have been reminded that it is best to stay home when you are not feeling well and when you know you have been exposed. Further, our elderly need to be prudent – hopefully the vaccine rollout will include all of our senior saints very soon. I believe church is essential and I think that most of you reading this letter do too. If we believe this, then we will put a priority on being there whenever it is reasonably possible – because that is what the Lord commands us to do. We just need to make sure that we walk by faith and not by fear. Believers must also be careful not to judge one another on sincerely held differences of opinion (easier said than done, but necessary). Believers should consider that if potential exposure in secular settings is justifiable –such as work or shopping etc., then exposure in a church setting is likely also justifiable.
Consider starting a Bible reading plan this year. We have a few “read through the Bible in year” devotional books left or you can find reading plans online as well. Without God’s word, a believer is spiritually starving. If you have not been consistent in reading the Bible before, start small, maybe just a chapter a day. We would be happy to recommend resources to help you understand and study God’s word.
Pray for one another in these days. Ask God for wisdom about how we might reach out to a needy world; the lost are still lost in a pandemic. Also, ask the Lord how you can be a part of ministering to fellow believers in our church (in reach). A church family (the body of Christ) cannot function split apart. Find creative ways to bear one another’s burdens and encourage or as Hebrews says, “to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Our current Sunday preaching series is in Genesis, as of this writing we are at chapter 16 – in the life of Abraham. On Wednesdays we spent a few weeks in the book of Psalms and will soon be returning to an overview of the Old Testament. All of the sermons are available online or we can still provide you with CDs of any of them. We use text messaging to send prayer requests and sermon passages. Send a text to Pastor’s cell 414-364-7188 to be added to the thread.
We know that these are interesting days, but we are not the first generation of believers to face interesting times and our Lord knows what is going on and He can be trusted! Please let us know if we can be a help to you – that is what a church family is for!
Yours for Christ,
Pastor and Mrs. Rinehart