Sowers of the Seed by Josh Creel
Sowers of the Seed is a Bible study group that meets each Thursday night on the campus of USF. It began approximately 9 years ago and has grown steadily through the years. This past Thursday night was the first meeting of this semester and 39 were in attendance! No gimmicks are used in advertising, no recreational activities are offerred. The only promise made is that the Bible will be read and studied. So, 39 souls came together on the campus of a secular university to do nothing but study the Bible. Those present included many who are not members of the church, but they came with Bibles ready and listened attentatively as Randal Ackett led them in a study of Acts 1.
I share this with you for a couple of reasons. First, to remind us that even though it sometimes seems as if no one is interested in godly things, there are still those interested in learning God's will from the Bible. Second, how blessed we are to have so many enthusiastic young Christians among us. Whether students at FC, USF or still in high school, we are blessed to have these living examples of faith and purity (1Timothy 4:12) among us. What a great family God has given us! What a great Father we serve!
A Note from Steve Patton in Ethiopia
I have been coming to Ethiopia for 12 years but the culture shock when I arrive never goes away. You try to get into the setting as quickly as possible but driving through a third world country is jarring and it is always in front of you. Poverty is overwhelming and it is not going away any time soon. You just wish there was some way to change it all and change it quickly. There isn’t. It is here (probably to stay) and we are here – to teach hope – hope that transforms spirit and character but probably not your economic standing. The gospel is the one message that is truly ubiquitous – It works anywhere. Its message cuts across all social and cultural divides and unites rich and poor in the same hope, fulfilling the same need we all have, the greatest need of all – salvation.
We spent today teaching the gospel to men sitting in a dim room on homemade benches. Their clothes were old and worn, their faces creased with age and a hard life. It is clear their possessions are meager and simple. Their homes have dirt floors and thatch roofs. Many of them walked miles to be here. But I taught the same lessons I would teach at home. The lessons of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians are universal and timeless and I enjoyed sharing Paul’s message with them. They listen intently for hours and then ask good questions showing many of them are very good students of the Word. Smiles will be seen on their faces. They are happy to be Christians and to be able to immerse themselves in God’s Word for this extended time. There are men here who have converted more people and started more churches than I could ever dream of doing. God knows their names and their eternal reward should far exceed mine.
(Read Steve's updates at http://overseasblog2014.wordpress.com)
Teaching in Eithiopia
By Steve Patton
I leave this afternoon to join Bob Owen in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. They will pick me up at the airport Tuesday morning and we will drive about 5 hours south to Hoseana. We will spend 3 days teaching from morning to evening. This picture is from last year's classes there. We will have over 200 preachers and teachers in attendance. Many will be experienced Bible students and some will be less experienced. We will divide them up and teach them accordingly. We will do this in three different places in the countryside as well as in Addis Ababa. It is a demanding schedule but very rewarding. The men are hungry to learn and are doing a wonderful job evangelizing. Hundreds are converted every year and new churches established. Some of these men have become my heros of faith. I know none more dedicated to the Lord's work anywhere.
Pray that all goes well in our work there as well as my work in the Seychelles that follows. My blog for the trip is: overseasblog2014.wordpress.com. I will update as often as possible depending on internet access. See you in a month!
The Opportunity to Serve
By Josh Creel
This story may be apocryphal, but I've heard it from more than one source so I'm going to say it's true. Brother Harold Comer is well known to most of us, in fact he's an "honorary" member and his picture is on our membership board. You may know that he served as an evangelist for many years with the College View congregation in Florence, AL (the same congregation where Kenny and Beth Moorer now labor). The College View congregation is located next to the University of North Alabama, so like us, they have numerous college students worshipping with them each year. Just like us, there is one Sunday in the Fall when most of the college students are moving in so the students are present at worship along with their parents. Well, the story goes that on one such Sunday the parents of an incoming freshman had a question for Brother Comer. They asked, "What will this church do for our child?" Consider for a moment how you would answer that question. Perhaps you would describe the special college class, college devotionals or adopt-a-student programs. Brother Comer's response? "We will give them the opportunity to serve."
Today we have numerous parents in our number who are dropping their children off for school (at Florida College, USF and perhaps other establishments). No doubt you are concerned for your children. As you talk to some of the members here, I hope you know that we will do everything we can for your children while they are with us. We have faithful shepherds who will look after their souls, good teachers who will seek to help them grow in God's word and godly members who will take interest in the physical, emotional and spiritual well being of your children. However, I would like to echo Brother Comer's statement: we will also give your children the opportunity to serve God, His people and the world. In fact, that may be the greatest thing we can do for your children (Ephesians 4:11-16
Second Holy Spirit Sermon
A PDF of the second Holy Spirit sermon can be downloaded here.