From the Pastor’s Pen . . .
Good things are happening at Glenwood! I see the hand of God working. His Spirit is stirring hearts. Prayers are being answered in in the name of Jesus. In short, God is doing things and working in ways that only He can as the church moves forward toward relaunch.
Your Church Council is meeting frequently and regularly, seeking God’s vision for the church that He desires at 200 N. Alabama Road at this particular moment in history. As the Council continues to pray with unity of heart and purpose, the Lord continues to reveal with increasing clarity the outlines of what a thriving, effective, biblical, evangelical church should be. I like to think of this process as driving toward the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, for the first time. We know that the beautiful home exists from brochures and eyewitness reports, so we set out to find it. On our way, we catch occasional, fleeting glimpses of it through clearings and at high points along the interstate highway. As we enter the estate, we follow the signs until we turn a corner and suddenly, it comes into view. It’s somewhat shrouded in mist, but its outline and majesty are unmistakable. As we get nearer, special features begin to come into view as the mist thins and our depth perception increases. Our anticipation grows. Draw nearer still, and colors and architectural details emerge with increasing clarity. Arriving, we begin to see the amazing craftsmanship and artistry with which the castle was designed and constructed: beautiful rooflines, an asymmetrical yet cohesive façade, and elaborate details carved into wood and stone. Only as we enter do we see walls punctuated with colorful stained glass and adorned intricately woven tapestries and paintings.
So, where is the Church Council now in this process? In keeping with the analogy, I would say that we have turned the corner, the outline is in view, and some colors and details are beginning to emerge with increasing clarity. We have not quite “arrived,” but we are very nearly at the point that we can begin to develop, under God, the plan to build the church that He wants in Oak Ridge. Of course, the church is neither brick and mortar nor wood and stone. The church is people, believers, those who are trusting in Christ as their Savior, working in covenant relationship together to be the body of Christ, a means through which He accomplishes His purposes where He has sovereignly placed us on earth and in history. Acquiring a vision, plan, and model for a church of brick and mortar is complex but, relatively easy. Acquiring the vision, plan, and model for a true church whose building blocks are the people of God is infinitely more difficult. In fact, it is something only God can do. But praise His name, He is doing precisely that. The model is becoming more well defined each time the Council meets.
Still, as one might expect, the work of your Church Council is not without its challenges. Not to press the analogy too far, but as with the Biltmore Estate, the price of admission is steep. The enemy does not want this relaunch to happen, and if he cannot prevent it altogether, will work to minimize its effectiveness. Among other things, that means oppressing those who are in the fight as well as those who support them—something the Council members have already begun to experience. Of course, we know that the enemy will not win in the end. Victory has already been won by our Lord Jesus Christ. We also know, however, that the enemy does win some battles. How can we ensure that this is a battle He will not win? Volumes have been written on this subject, but three fundamental lines of defense will ensure the victory.
First, be aware of the devil’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). His methods of attack are many and often powerful, but rarely, if ever, novel. By studying God’s Word, we can easily come to recognize his fingerprints on the circumstances of our lives. When things that would distract, defile, or discourage us from doing the work of the Lord come at a time that would turn us away from the task at hand, there is a strong likelihood that it is from the enemy. When these things come in clusters too dense to be explained by mere coincidence, it’s almost certainly the enemy that is behind it. When feelings erupt—either within our own hearts or directed towards us—that are out of proportion to what one would reasonably expect, there is a high probability that the enemy is behind them. Greater is He that is in you than he [Satan] that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).
Second, put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11ff.) The armor of God does not keep us from the battle, but it does keep us in it. Moreover, it is the gear divinely ordained for effectively standing against the principalities and powers with whom we do battle. We are instructed to give no place to the devil (Eph. 4:7), no, not even an inch. Only as we are clothed in the armor of God can we be assured that in the day of attack, when all is said and done, we shall be found still standing.
Finally, pray. The armor of God is to be put on by prayer. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is to be wielded in prayer. The one clothed in armor is to be bathed in prayer. And all prayer is to be offered in the Spirit, with perseverance. Prayer not only provides protection for the soldier of the Lord, it is through prayer that the efforts of the soldier are effective. It is prayer that will protect the relaunch from attack. It is prayer that will protect the church and her workers from attack. It is prayer that will keep us moving forward, even when the winds howl and the waves roar. Prayer is our communication connection with Almighty God.
Every aspect of Relaunch will depend on the prayers of God’s people. To ensure that prayer receives the emphasis needed for successful relaunch, the Church Council has named Celeste Brubaker as prayer coordinator for Relaunch. Celeste served in the vital role of prayer coordinator for Europe while serving in Germany with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Celeste will be coordinating prayer events, sharing prayer needs, and generally engaging the church in prayer for Relaunch. As a sort of “kickoff” event, GBC will host a church wide prayer and fellowship retreat at EdenRidge in Crab Orchard, TN, on Saturday, October 22, from 9:00 to 4:00 (CST). Coffee, lunch, and refreshments will be provided. This will be a truly great time of prayer and fellowship with the Lord and with one another for the whole church family. I truly believe that God wants to do something very special in our congregation during this weekend prayer retreat. Please don’t miss it!