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Our Patient God

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Psalm 78 begins with a beautiful picture of what a community of faith should look like as they strive to cross generational boundaries and be faithful to pass on the most important things to future generations. Then the psalmist gives a brief summary and commentary describing the wonders God showed to the Israelites during the Exodus and beyond.

As I read through Psalm 78, my heart swells as I identify with verses like:

“But they continued to sin against him.” (v17)

“Despite all this, they kept sinning…” (v32)

“How often they rebelled against him…and grieved him…” (v40)

Then we get verses 38-39. Oh, what a beautiful verses!! “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh…”

Even in the midst of constant disobedience and disbelief in the wonders He performed for His people, God was compassionate and often turn his anger aside. Amen, and thank you, Lord!

As I read, my heart is moved. Thank you, God, for being patient with me, too. Thank You that You are “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” (Psalm 103:8) Thank you that you are not finished with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)

Our Prayer for our FBC family

If you are part of or FBC Tuscaloosa family, you have probably heard our announcement by now. 

It is with sadness I announce that on June 13, 2017, I submitted my resignation from FBC as Minister to Preschool and Children to Gil and our staff. Being just under 3 years, this is not the short tenure I anticipated when I came to Tuscaloosa. I have been offered an opportunity, that my wife and I believe to be God’s direction, to join the LifeWay Kids curriculum team. 

This announcement was officially released yesterday (June 22, 2017) in our weekly newsletter; found here: http://www.firsttuscaloosa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/fsw062217.pdf

For those who have encouraged and welcomed us, thank you. It has been my joy and privilege to serve the families of First Baptist. While we are excited for a new opportunity, which will also includes an added blessing of being close to our extended family, this decision to leave has not come easily or without sadness. We were not actively looking to leave so this opportunity came unexpectedly. We will miss the families of First Baptist and the Tuscaloosa/Northport community. 

Whatever good God may have done through us during our time in AL, we pray the God of all wisdom and power will carry out His good work in your families far into the future… in fact for generations yet to come. As Aaron was instructed to pray over the people of Israel, this is my prayer for you:

“May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.”‭‭ ~ Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬

Generational Discipleship

On Father’s Day this year (6/18/2017), I had the privilege of preaching at my church (First Baptist Tuscaloosa). The sermon title was “Generational Discipleship” from Deuteronomy 6, Luke 9 & 14, Psalm 78, Judges 2, and Ephesians 4.

Click here for the sermon outline.

Who’s Down with O.C.C.

This was a short parody video we shot to promote Operation Christmas Child at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHJCVqU6VXg

Gospel Jars Illustration

At some point in the past 2 years, I ran across this illustration for presenting the gospel. I make no claims of originality but can’t seem to recall/find the source to give proper credit. I merely wrote the “script” to make the presentation fit my style.

This is the same presentation I used at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa’s VBS; however, this presentation was recorded at Chapel Hill Baptist Church, Northport, AL.

This appears to be “magic.” Of course, it is not. It is simply a science experiment.

The “JESUS” Jar is water with a small amount of bleach.

The “SIN” Jar is water with a fair amount of iodine.

The “YOU” Jar is pure water.

TGP 52-week Devotional

The brand new Big Picture 52-week Bible Story Devotional is the latest addition to the The Gospel Project themed Bible/BIble Story family from B&H Kids… and I love it!! If you are looking for a family devotional, this one would be worth trying out. It is available in print and e-reader (ordering link below).

We have used The Big Picture Storybook Bible with our older preschooler/younger elementary schoolers and it is great for Bible stories. This devotional takes Family Worship to the next tier through well-written life application. Though it doesn’t provide explicit “Bible stories” on each page (Bible story videos are linked), this devotional does an excellent job in the application of Scripture to a child’s life. Consistent with other Bibles and Bible Storybooks in this series, the 52-week devotional retains the central goal of The Gospel Project which is not only to teach Bible stories but to teach the Bible’s story (see tweet below).

 

Several key features stand out to me:

1. Single page devotional content is good for time-management and younger attention spans.

2. The Read It section features additional Bible passages to support or re-enforce the devotional story as a great addition to keeping each week founded in the Bible.

3. The Watch It section provides a direct link to the Bible story video from which the devotional is based.

4. The iconic Big Picture Question & Christ Connection sections, staples of The Gospel Project, ensure a close tie-in to the gospel helping children and families think beyond the page. This devotional includes expanded Big Picture Questions to help facilitate deeper conversations.

5. The Live Big section sends the devotional over-the-top providing practical application and recommendations to carry the devotional “lesson” beyond the Family Devotional time to the rest of the week. The inclusion of this section expands the applicable age-range of the devotional to include older elementary-aged children.

No devotional is perfect in and of itself nor is any one book (outside the Scriptures) the perfect fit for every family. The Big Picture 52-week Bible Story Devotional, however, interweaves a simplicity perfect for older preschoolers with thought-provoking questions and application that will engage older elementary schoolers with such excellence that many families will find this devotional a great resource to guide Family Worship in their homes.

Additional reading about this devotional and sample pages:
https://www.gospelproject.com/2016/03/08/the-big-picture-interactive-52-week-bible-story-devotional

Link to purchase from LifeWay:
http://www.lifeway.com/Product/the-big-picture-interactive-52-week-bible-story-devotional-P005727303

Nativity Backdrop

Nativity_Kit

Christmas Nativity Scene Design-a-Room Pack

I wanted to put up a large Nativity scene in the foyer of our children’s building at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.

I found a backdrop scene at Oriental Trading called Christmas Nativity Scene Design-a-Room Pack for $39.98.

LINK: orientaltrading.com/web/browse/processProductsCatalog?sku=70/57450

Note: this backdrop scene is made of the common Oriental Trading cheap plastic.

After receiving the kit, I couldn’t find any helpful information on how to assemble this kit. So this is what I decided to do. I hope it helps you.

Cost

Nativity Kit = $39.98

Foam Boards = $43.92 (4 x $10.98)

1/2″ white Mounting Tape = $79.60 (20 x $3.98)

1″ clear Mounting Tape = $9.96 (2 x $4.98)

Total: $173.46


Additional items I purchased from Lowes

4'x8' insulation foam board from Lowes

4’x8′ insulation foam board from Lowes

Four 4’x8′ 1/2″ foam boards (lowes.com/pd_15355-46086-389697_1z0vill__?productId=3365568&pl=1&Ntt=insulation+board#img)

mounting tape from Lowes

mounting tape from Lowes

20 packs of 1/2″ and 1″ Scotch Double-sided Mounting Tape (I love this stuff!) (lowes.com/pd_488024-98-410/DC/SF___?productId=50053419&pl=1&Ntt=mounting+tape)

I used some old lumber I had lying around from other projects to build a wooden frame to prop the panels on so I didn’t have to purchase any lumber for my frame.

 

 

 


First I opened and laid out the 30’x4′ backdrops to get an idea of how they would fit together.

NOTE: The lower section (city scape) was shorter and not the full 30′

I slid the four foam boards underneath to measure where the cuts would be.

 

 

trimmed excess from backdrop

I trimmed the excess from the backdrops leaving about 12″-18″ on each end, just in case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

long strip of mountain tape

taped backdrop to foam board using mounting tape

Using the 1/2″ Mounting Tape, I put a 4′ strip down the edge of the board making sure to press the tape down well.

I used one 4′ strip for each side. 1 piece for the upper section and 1 piece from the lower section.

 

 

 

IMG_7357

There may be a better way to do it, but I attached my tape on one side of the backdrop. Then I stretched and trimmed the other side.

After I trimmed the plastic, I placed a 4′ strip of 1/2″ tape on the opposite side and attached the backdrop.

One of my favorite things about this Mounting Tape is that I was able to de-attach and re-attach the backdrop several times without ripping the plastic. If you’ve used anything from Oriental Trading made from this plastic, you know how HUGE this is!

I cut and attached the lower section (city scape) on each board first then came back to do the upper section (sky). I overlapped the upper section over the lower section by 1/8″ or 1/4″.

 

IMG_7360

Frame:

I wanted the backdrop to be completely free-standing.

I had some old lumber lying around that I used as frames. I didn’t have to build it because I was making use of some old pieces that were already put together.

 

 

 

 

propped wooden frame support

 

I let the frame lean just slightly and screwed in 4 additional pieces of lumber to prop up the frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

used command strops to attach foam board to wooden frame

I used command strips to attach the foam board to the wooden frame. These seemed to work fine. My backup plan was to use some of the Mounting Tape.

 

Also, I duct taped the seams of each board in effort to keep them together (see pic above).

 

 

 

 

 

 

tied frame down with sand buckets to keep from tipping forward

 

Then finally, to keep the frame from tipping forward, I used some small rope to tie it to a bucket of sand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nativity_Kit

Attaching the Characters:

The characters come on 2 sheets (per pack) in random orientation. The will need to be cut out.

Using scissors, I (and some ladies helping me) cut out each of the characters. We cut them relatively close to the edge, but I was not very concerned to get them unnoticeably close.

I cut thin strips of the 1″ clear Mounting Tape, as many as needed, to attach the characters to the backdrop.

 

This is what I ended up with. While not perfect, but I am happy with the final product.

Peace v Parenting

Click the image for more info about this book.

The following is from a series of posts of reflections and/or quotes from “Cultivating Responsibility” by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

Any parent with more than one child must honestly admit that peaceful moments can be hard to come by, but we must not value peace in-and-of-itself so much that we miss opportunities to encourage and challenge our children in their journey toward maturity.

Though the task is hard, parents, let us keep our hearts and minds focused on our parental calling.

Children often train their parents to jump at their every request by making life uncomfortable. Parents sometimes become more interested in peace than character development and are quick to comply.

Living Life in a Spiritual Layover

Reflections on Philippians 3

Our pastor recently preached on Philippians 3 so it’s been a topic around our staff table. As others have rightly noted, this chapter speaks deep to the topic of spiritual maturity. Paul seems to define spiritual maturity (v. 15) as living an active life in the constant and continued pursuit of a relationship with Jesus and the resulting fruit-bearing Christlikeness that accompanies this intimate relationship. In other words, salvation (being born again) is not the equivalent of acquiring a ticket to heaven, and once acquired, the ticket holder is simply waiting to board his plane to heaven, as if waiting in a “spiritual layover” with nothing more to do than to enjoy to food, scenery, and amenities of the locale.

No. Paul says “I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of know Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 7) and “my goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings” (v. 10). Our salvation is meant to propel us into active pursuit of Jesus and building/serving His church.

Paul’s goal in life and the reality of his salvation, as he recorded for the church in Philippi, was to know Jesus more and more each day. In verse 14, Paul says, “I pursue as my goal the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” I love this language! Pursue… it carries a such vivid imagery of action. I picture someone running as fast as he can, maybe in a race toward a finish line (which is imagery used elsewhere: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2, Hebrews 12:1) or after someone or something highly valued. His eyes and mind are focused on the end goal, but the race isn’t over. With each step, he works hard, “reaching forward to what is ahead” (v. 13). Salvation is active. Earlier in Philippians 2:12, Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It seems by both Paul’s teaching and his lifestyle that he did not understand being born again as limited to something that happened at a single point in history (for him on the Damascus road in Acts 9). His life as a Christian began at a point in time, but it did not end there nor was it placed “on hold” there. He said in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make EVERY EFFORT to take hold of it…” (emphasis added). Paul worked out (not for) his salvation… growing in Christ… learning about Him… worshiping Him… sharing Him with others.

In contrast to pursuing Jesus and subsequently becoming more Christlike, Paul later says that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (v. 18) and “they are focused on earthly things” (v. 19). While Paul does not use the same intesity of active imagery for those who are worldly, he does set the 2 things against each other. The Christian’s “citizenship is in heaven, from which we EAGERLY wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20; emphasis added). Enemies of the cross are focused on earthly things; Christians must be focused on heavenly things. Enemies of the cross pursue their own appetite and desires through the things of this world (3:19). Christians must “seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2) as we “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) and filling our minds with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, [and] whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8).

From a physical standpoint Paul learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he was in (4:11-12), but from a spiritual standpoint, he never settled for where he was or felt like his sanctification was complete (3:12).

My prayer is that I will follow Paul’s challenge and that you will, as well:

We should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. (Philippians 3:16-17)

FBC Family Advent Devotional

In the last few years, many resources have been produced to help guide families in celebrating the season of Advent and Christmas together. You can find a few of them of the under the “Articles” link at ttownparents.org.

At FBC Tuscaloosa, we encourage families to set aside time to worship together throughout the week, but we realize that having family worship times can, sometimes, seem intimidating and overwhelming. We want to encourage you to use this Advent season as a time to begin, restart, or just continue to worship together as a family. To that end, we are providing a simple resource to help you.

During Sunday worship, beginning Sunday evening November 30, we will celebrate Advent corporately as a church. Coming alongside our corporate worship, we are providing a Family Advent Devotional to help guide you in leading your family through the season of Advent.

“How do I get a copy?” Glad you asked. There are 2 ways:

  1. Click here for the digital version (or the Family Advent Devotional link in the top menu).
  2. Printed resources are available in the foyer of the Children’s Center and the Hub of the main building. Look for this:

advent_resources

We pray you will find value in these resources! May God bless your time together as a family!

Jeremy Carroll
Minister to Preschool & Children
FBC Tuscaloosa

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