Celebration and Playground Dedication

Pray for the Playgound for Jesus Celebration that will take place this Saturday. I am using Colossians 4:2-3 as a basis for my prayer. "Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah..."

We want hearts to be open to the simple message of the gospel. Timmy Miller "Da Minista" will share the message Saturday afternoon. He is a hip hop artist and Penetcostal preacher. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move among the kids in East End.

Come out for a great day of ministry and fellowship. Events begin at 10:00. Thanks.


I've been invited to preach for Bishop Cornelious McClellan at the Starlight Baptist Church the Sunday after Easter. Pray that we will be able to develop a healthy partnership. God has put East End on our hearts.

Sunday's Sermon


Get up and pray...

We continue our, Places of the Passion, sermon series this Sunday morning. I will explore the garden prayer scene in Luke 22:39-46. The evangelist gives us a good glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. We are wise to learn from him. Rabbi Jesus is simply the best teacher and model of authentic prayer.

Stanley Grenz once said, "The greatest challenge that we face today is the challenge to pray." The three apostles faced this same challenge and Jesus called them to, "Get up and pray..." We need to respond to this challenge. A good place to start is by following Jesus' example in the garden.

The word Gethsemane means, "oil press." It is a fitting name for what happened there. The Presence of the Sprirt was pressed out of Jesus' prayer time and he received strength for the hour. Jesus wanted his three closest friends to experience the same gracious anointing he did. They slept through it. We don't have to.

Read Jesus' prayer and notice the elements of it. His prayer life was: habitual, honest, passionate, and faith-filled. Are these elements part of your prayer life? Join us this Sunday as we examine this prayer together or check it out on Truthcasting later in the week. God bless y'all!

Pray for Joe in Haiti

We just heard from FBCer, Dr. Joe Ross, in Haiti. They are seeing so many patients that medications and running short. Please pray for a miracle of provision. He's asking God to, "multiply our medicines in whatever way He sees fit." Let's join his prayer.

A Prayer for the Day

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;

The wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

St Patrick's Breastplate, 5th century AD, adapted

He Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

Dr. Leake and I are preaching a Lenten sermon series called, "Places of the Passion." My assignment for Sunday night is the Praetorium. The text is Mark 15:16-21This biblical scene requires us to confront an issue that we would rather avoid, suffering. Jesus' experience teaches us so many important lessons about suffering, God, and hope. Spending some time with this issue may be one of the greatest needs of Christians today.

Timothy Keller recently wrote about the big issues we are facing and suggested some responses to these issues. One of the things he said is that we need to develop a theology of suffering. Keller wrote, "Members of churches in the west are caught absolutely flat-footed by suffering and difficulty. This is a major problem, especially if we are facing greater 'liminality' - social marginalization - and maybe more economic and social instability." I don't agree with a number of Keller's theological conclusions but he has nailed this one.

Join us this Sunday night if you can. I'll talk about suffering in a hopeful way. We all need a dose of this message. God bless y'all.

From Rows, to Circles, to the Margins

Our church has been encouraged by the ministry of Andy Stanley. We have used his material to equip small and large groups for evangelism and discipleship. One of the things he often says is, “We need to get people out of rows and into circles.” This quote demonstrates a desire to get people connected in small group settings. The assumption is that these people are already taking part in a large worship environment. This emphasis fits our church and many other congregations in the American South. We have some “worship only” people that could really benefit from the challenge and encouragement that comes from small discipleship groups or classes. We do need to get them out of row and into circles of fellowship. But does it stop there? I don't think so.

Last Thursday I attended the Downtown Lenten Service at Central United Methodist Church (We are hosting today so come on – the lunch is free). They have a new senior minister named Bob Rambo. I have immediate affection for anyone named Rambo. “Rambos” remind me of mercenaries and gospel singers, which makes them an interesting lot of folks. Dr. Bob did the typical things a host does during ecumenical gatherings. He told us were the bathroom was, where lunch would be served, and he said the opening prayer. He prayed this during the invocation, “Move us out of our comfortable circles, into the margins where other people you love dwell.” He nailed it. We need to move to the margins.

We teach that there are three fundamental commitments that every Christian needs to embrace. We need to worship God. We need to connect with other believers in small groups. We need a primary mission field. These needs feed on each other. They also require the vitality of movement. So let’s be sure to move from rows, to circles, to the margins, to rows, to circles, to the margins…Until we see Him.

N.E.E.Dful Words

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-7 ESV

“Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 NRSV

I led session three of The Healthy Family series during our mid-week worship gathering last night. We focused on affirmation. I went from that experience to lead a college gathering. We are studying the book of James and last night’s session focused on James 3. I thought about the power of the tongue all day yesterday. It’s something we all need to work on because the tongue is a life and death matter. I want so share a little nugget that I did not share in either gathering last night. Here goes -

R.T. Kendall is an interesting figure. I almost always read his books because they’ll treat you like a Stretch Armstrong toy and I need theological stretching from time to time. They are also filled with some big time pastoral wisdom. His book, Controlling the Tongue: Mastering the What, When, and Why of the Words We Speak, is a good example of both.

Here is an example of his pastoral guidance at work, “There are basically two kinds of people: energizers and drainers. Some people energize me! I love to be around people like that. They have a way of affirming you, dignifying you, making you feel esteemed and important, and leaving you with fresh energy. There are also those who-sadly, even when you see them coming-give you a heavy feeling. You know they will be critical, say something that is negative, point out what is wrong, and leave you drained and in need of a rest!” We can choose the kind of person we are.

Kendall introduced an acronym to Westminster Chapel that I think is very helpful. He asked the congregation to be particular with their words and ask a series of questions when deciding what to say. Here is the acronym.

N – Is it necessary?
E – Does it emancipate?
E – Does it energize?
D – Does it dignify?

Think through these questions. Buy the book. Steal it from me. I think they are useful. Meet someone’s N.E.E.D today!

Kendall, R.T. Controlling the Tongue: Mastering The What, When, and Why Of The Words You Speak. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2007.

Affirmation and Ritual

We are in the third week of The Healthy Family Series @ FBC Meridian. I'll be talking about affimation and rituals tonight. The blessing is a powerful thing. I was reminded of this in a strange way this past Sunday. WGN played the movie, Dodgeball (it's pretty crass even on the edited WGN, sorry). It was beautiful watching Patches affirm Peter to victory. Take my word on this or ask the Average Joes. Patches O'Houlihan said, "I believe in you. You can do it." They did and so can you.

Here is a rough outline and the passages of scripture we will be using in tonight's bible study. ...hope to see you tonight. -

Affirmation and Ritual

The art of blessing is a biblical practice that spans thousands of years and both testaments. We can grow spiritually and strengthen our family life by spending some time exploring the blessing. Tonight we’ll as look at biblical scenes of blessing, talk about the elements of blessing and learn about giving and receiving the blessing of God. Rituals can be tools of blessing.


Scenes of Blessing
• Genesis 49:1-2; 28-29a
• Mark 10:13-16
• Matthew 3:16-17
• Matthew 17:5-8

Elements of Blessing
• Influence
• Nearness
• Spoken Words of Affirmation

What Does a Blessing Do?
It affirms and frees.

How Do I Bless?
• Own your influence.
• Be connected.
• Learn to speak affirming words.
• Refuse to curse. “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NRSV

You can receive the blessing.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 1:3 NRSV


• Daily Rituals – Deuteronomy 11:18-21
• Weekly Rituals – Luke 4:16
• Yearly Rituals – John 5:1
• Rites of Passage – Luke 2:22

Grass Roots and Mustard Seeds

The Spirit of Jesus is working in our church. Our focus is increasingly more external and this is bringing vitality to our congregation. Walking started something this past summer that just continues to grow. We have discovered that God can do much through us if we will trust him and work together. I've stared calling this approach to life Grass Roots and Mustard Seeds. We need the faith of the mustard seed and grass roots cooperation.

One our our newest SS classes is made up of some very young professionals. They are in the process of raising money for some compassion projects in Meridian. They have developed a t-shirt design and will be selling them soon. The FBC logo will go on the front and the Grass Roots and Mustard Seed design will go on the back. Sizes will range from youth extra small to adult 3x+. They come in blue and white. These t-shirts will be the official volunteer shirt for the Playground for Jesus (DaMinista) event this month. Youth sizes are 12.00 and adult sizes are 15.00. Pre-order today by contacting me - matt@fbcmeridian.org. Thanks!
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