The Weekly Epistle 5/27/20

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” 
 
Ever find yourself on the wrong train going in the opposite direction of your intended destination?  I have.  There is a sense of panic and helplessness.  That feeling just might describe many, right now, in the face of this pandemic.  
 
That quote by Bonhoeffer was his reply when asked whether he shouldn’t join the German Christians in order to work against them from within. He said he couldn’t.  Bonhoeffer was a man who was willing to take a stand and face the consequences in a very significant time in world history in the 40’s as an evil German dictator waged his hate on the Jewish people.  
 
It got me thinking.  There is a time to speak up and time to shut up, Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3.  It requires wisdom to know when which response is needed.
 
This led me to think about our times we are in right now.  As churches that were required to close their doors, the question on the minds of many is, “must we comply?  Is this a time in which we take a stand against the authorities in order to obey God rather than man” (as it says in Acts 4:19)?
 
Civil disobedience.  When must we obey God rather the laws of our state or country?  Some pastors believe that to be shut down as we are by the government because of Covid-19, is a case in point for civil disobedience.  
 
In mid-March, a pastor in Florida, declared before his packed congregation, “I’ve got news for you: This church will never close.”
 
Two weeks later, he was under arrest.  
 
I heard that one pastor said, “The church is the last force resisting the Antichrist.  Let us assemble regardless of what anyone says.”  
 
My comments here are not to be taken as judgment on them.  Are there times when we must obey God rather than men?  Is it when those in authority are not following Biblical principles?  Well, that would go against the teaching of Romans 13:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-17.  Both those passages that speak of submission to authority were written in a day when the Roman government was as corrupt and godless as any other time in history.  And we are told to submit to those in authority.  So civil disobedience can’t be referring to that.  
 
For followers of Christ, the only reason for civil disobedience is a deep biblical conviction that obedience to man’s authority would be disobedience to God.  And I know that Hebrews 10 commands us to not forsake the assembly of our brothers and sisters.  But we are also told to love one another.  Is it loving to gather when we can spread the virus to others?  Does religious freedom mean the freedom to risk infecting your fellow believers and neighbors with a deadly virus?  
 
We are called in Scripture to live in peace with all people if possible.  We are told in Scripture to live as good and godly citizens in the world.  We are told to pray for those in authority so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  
 
We must also consider our testimony.  What will the unbelieving world think about those who make a show of disobeying authority?  Do we help our cause or hurt it when we defy authority by saying, “My only authority is God”?  We must ask, “Is my action bringing glory or embarrassment to the name of Christ”?
 
Whatever the hidden agenda might be for some politicians around churches shutting down, the government is saying that for the protection and health of our society we should not meet.  And that of course is not only said to churches.  This is for the greater good of society.  This is not persecution of Christianity.  Civil disobedience is not necessary.  If they said, “Churches are to stop preaching Christ or stop worshipping or stop talking about the gospel,” then we obey God rather than men.”
 
For instance, as your pastor if I was told I could not preach God’s Word, I would have to choose obeying God over that. And if it meant jail time, or fines, or worse, then I also must choose to live with the consequences of that decision.  Same with you, if a law went out that said you were forbidden to speak of God in public or to share God’s Word with others or to tell of the salvation of Jesus, then that would require civil disobedience on your part.  We would have to choose to obey God rather than those in authority if we are commanded to do something directly against God’s Word.  It doesn’t mean we start some revolution or protest with signs on the Whitehouse Lawn or the state capital.  It means we keep on preaching and communicating and spreading the gospel and let the chips fall where they fall.  If we are thrown in jail, then like Paul, we start a jail ministry.  
 
I leave you with this thought.  We mustn’t ever look to the government to be our savior, but to the Lord Jesus only!  We are people of the cross and must reflect Him in all we do.  Blessings to you, church!
 
Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

Living With THE END in View

Book of Revelation

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
Reopening & Unity
Romans 14

Join Pastor Brian Wednesday evenings at 7pm. 
A video will be available on Facebook, our You Tube channel and our website. 

Beginning Next Sunday

“A Guide to Joyful Living”
Our summer sermon series in the book of Philippians

On Goal Soccer Camp

August 4th – August 8th Register today at www.ongoal.org
K-1st 9am-Noon $145 / 2nd-9th 9am-3pm $165
Family discounts and Laconia resident discounts are also available. Visit www.laconiachurch.com/ongoal to volunteer or donate to the scholarship fund. We already have donation requests coming in.

Aspire Baby Bottle Blessing Campaign

Aspire’s Baby Bottle Blessing Campaign is under way!
We may not have a physical bottle for you to collect your money in, but you can still donate and help support this wonderful ministry! Donations by credit, debit or bank may be made online at their secure donation website: https://aspirewomenscenter.simpledonation.com/
Checks may also be mailed to Aspire at: 506 Union Ave., Laconia, NH 03246 or cash/coin dropped off at the Center, particularly if you have been saving your change over the year.
Thank you for all your support!!

EBC Campus Work Projects

We have a number of projects we could use your help with. 
You can volunteer at the church building and social distance at the same time. 
Contact Bill Wixson to volunteer
buildings@ebclaconia.com or 524-8580

EBC Facebook Page and Email List

If you are not currently on our EBC Bulletin Board on Facebook or receiving our communications via email, please contact Corianne at corianne@ebclaconia.com 

Giving

You can continue to give either online on our website www.laconiachurch.com and clicking on the green Give button or by mailing your checks to the office. 50 Washington St Laconia, NH 03246

Prayer and Praise

If you have any prayer requests or needs, please email Corianne at: corianne@ebclaconia.com 

The Weekly Epistle 5/20/20

On a church sign were the words: “Don’t let worry kill you, let the church help.”  
 
Worry is real.  Some are more prone to it than others, but none of us are above it.  And honestly the church, the Christian community, don’t always help matters either.  Whether it is through posts on Facebook or through other social media or through our conversations we can add to worry in others.  Shouldn’t we help each other through worrisome times?  
 
I am going to spend time looking at this deadly virus called worry this week in the Wednesdays in the Word study, but let me speak to this matter of worry for a few minutes right now.  
 
A Swedish proverb says, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
 
“Worry is an interest paid in advance on a debt you may never owe.”
 
“To carry worry to bed is to sleep with a pack on your back.”
 
It has been said that “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”
 
If we can’t change it why are we worrying about it?  But we do, don’t we?  Our English word worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle or to choke.  That’s appropriate!  We know how it chokes the life right out of us.  
 
Let me pause right here to clarify one matter.  Worry is not to be confused with genuine concern.  As a follower of Jesus Christ plugged into a Christian community my burdens get greater not lesser.  I am genuinely concerned about your walk with Christ and that you stay on track with Him.  I share your concern as you wait for test results, as you work through a relational hurt, or as you go through that personal struggle.  
 
When does that genuine concern cross the line to worry?  For one thing, when I become preoccupied with all that could go wrong, or focus on all the disastrous possibilities while neglecting the fact of God’s fatherly care and control over our lives, I am well on my way to the sin of worry.  
Where there is a draining of my physical, mental and spiritual energy with things that out of my control or with things that are future, or hypothetical, then undue concern and worry is getting the better part of me.  What is wrong with worry is that we are trying to take the responsibility that was meant for God to handle.  Where do we go with our anxieties?  
 
Jesus goes to great lengths in Matthew 6 to give us a little perspective on worry.  I will come back to this tonight on Wednesdays in the Word, but suffice it to say now, Jesus does not want you to be anxious.  Towards the end of his discourse on worry he says in verse 33, “But (instead of worrying) seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well.”  
 
We love the second part of that verse.  We like that God promises to take care of our needs.  The promise in the second half of the verse can’t be ripped out of what goes before it.  There is one condition to this promise of God caring for our needs- we must seek Him first.  God promises to meet the needs of those committed to his kingdom and his righteousness. 
 
If we put God’s will and God’s righteousness first in our lives, He will take care of everything else.  It is safe to say that the more central His rule becomes in our lives, the less anxiety we will have.  God promises that as we seek Him, then all these other things will be given to you.  Jesus does not want you to be anxious.  
 
The aim of Jesus’ kingship is to free us from anxiety.  I think in the world we see many in charge who seem to facilitate worry to establish their power and control.  The more anxious and fearful we are, the more we are like pawns in their game.  Not so with Jesus. He doesn’t secure His kingship by keeping his subjects in a state of worry and panic.  No!  The more central his kingship is in our lives, the less anxious we will be.   
 
Jesus does not want you to be anxious.  So, each day, and throughout the day, seek his kingship, make him king over every situation, every thought, every event, every moment.  Hand whatever is worrying you over to Him.  I have to do that often. When I don’t, it sucks the life right out of me.  It kills me.  
 
I have never read an obituary that said, “He died of worry.”  But perhaps some could read that way.  How do we keep from worrying to death?  Let Him be king over whatever that is.  Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.
 
Miss you and blessings to you, Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

What’s Missing

Book of Acts

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
How to worry Well
Matthew 6

Join Pastor Brian Wednesday evenings at 7pm. 
A video will be available on Facebook, our You Tube channel and our website. 

Coming This Summer

“A Guide to Joyful Living”
Our summer sermon series in the book of Philippians

Aspire Baby Bottle Blessing Campaign

Aspire’s Baby Bottle Blessing Campaign is under way!
We may not have a physical bottle for you to collect your money in, but you can still donate and help support this wonderful ministry! Donations by credit, debit or bank may be made online at their secure donation website: https://aspirewomenscenter.simpledonation.com/
Checks may also be mailed to Aspire at: 506 Union Ave., Laconia, NH 03246 or cash/coin dropped off at the Center, particularly if you have been saving your change over the year.
Thank you for all your support!!

EBC Campus Work Projects

We have a number of projects we could use your help with. 
You can volunteer at the church building and social distance at the same time. 
Contact Bill Wixson to volunteer
buildings@ebclaconia.com or 524-8580

EBC Facebook Page and Email List

If you are not currently on our EBC Bulletin Board on Facebook or receiving our communications via email, please contact Corianne at corianne@ebclaconia.com 

Giving

You can continue to give either online on our website www.laconiachurch.com and clicking on the green Give button or by mailing your checks to the office. 50 Washington St Laconia, NH 03246

Prayer and Praise

If you have any prayer requests or needs, please email Corianne at: corianne@ebclaconia.com 

The Weekly Epistle 5/6/20

What would Jesus do?  Back in the 90’s I was sitting in a seminary class when I looked over to the guy in front of me and noticed that he had this bracelet on that had in big letters, WWJD.  Being as easily distracted as I am, that was all I could focus on.  I didn’t hear a word the professor was saying because I was trying to figure out the significance of these letters- WWJD.
 
Of course, following that I saw those letters everywhere on bracelets.  By the way, did you know that the WWJD abbreviation became popular back in the late 1800’s after the widely read book entitled, “In His Steps: What would Jesus do?”  There is nothing new under the sun. 
 
Confession here- I have never been a big fan of the “What Would Jesus Do” phenomenon and the question itself.
 
Two little boys were arguing over who would have the last piece of cake.  The mom jumps in and says to the older son, “Billy, what would Jesus do?”  And Billy answered, “He’d multiply it into 5,000 pieces.”  Exactly!
 
You run out of everyone’s favorite drink at the wedding- what would Jesus? He’d turn the water into that drink.  You come into contact with someone sick- what would Jesus do? He’d perform a miracle and heal her.  Instead of trying to cross Winni on a boat, I will just start walking across. 
 
And what would Jesus do if he were living in this time of the Pandemic?  What would Jesus do with all the restrictions?  Would he wear a mask in public?  Would he practice social distancing?  
I doubt you can answer those questions with absolute certainty.  What would Jesus do? Is that a helpful question?  
 
I know asking that question can serve some purpose.  Perhaps it helps you to be more compassionate or respond in kindness rather than retaliation or do the dishes instead of leaving it for someone else.  
 
Here is my issue.  And it would imply that I also have a problem with the book “In His Steps.”  My concern is that we can actually assume to know what Jesus would do in every situation and then simply mimic that. My concern has to do with trying to live the Christian life by following some externals.  My concern is that we boil the Christian life down to formulas, checklists, and trying to get it all right externally.  
 
Living the Christian life is impossible.  I cannot live out what God wants of me in my own power.  I cannot do it.  One of the most critical verses for me early on in my walk with Christ was Galatians 2:20. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
 
There was a time in my life in which I was saying that verse as part of my morning time with the Lord almost daily.  Why?  Because I have a tendency to try and live out my faith on my own.  And the longer I am a Christian, the greater this danger is.  And most of the time now I at least have an awareness of when I am doing this…most of the time.  
 
It usually shows in that I am restless, anxious, stressed, tired, irritable, joyless, and other signs.  I must keep coming back to, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  And the result of Christ living in me and flowing out of my life is the nine-flavored fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
 
No amount of my trying harder or trying to get it all just right as if there is an easy, neat, answer to every situation, is no way to live.  Where is the freedom in that?  I want off the treadmill of performance and experience instead the power of Christ living in me.  “I want to know Him,” Paul says, “and the power of his resurrection.”  
 
I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  I N L L B C L I M.    Is that too long to put on a bracelet?  
 
Blessings to you church!  Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

When God Seems Silent

Book of Esther

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
Some Guarantees
Romans 8

Join Pastor Brian Wednesday evenings at 7pm. 
A video will be available on Facebook, our You Tube channel and our website. 

EBC Spring Work Day

Miss coming to church? Well, we have a number of projects we could use your help with. You can volunteer at the church building and social distance at the same time. Email Bill Wixson at buildings@ebclaconia.com or call 524-8580 to sign up for your time slot!
Check out the video for more details 

EBC Facebook Page and Email List

If you are not currently on our EBC Bulletin Board on Facebook or receiving our communications via email, please contact Corianne at corianne@ebclaconia.com 

Community Groups

We are now hosting community groups via Zoom. Please contact your facilitator if you have not already been set up with this app. 
If you are not currently involved with a community group, please contact Tim Whitman tawhitman@liberty.edu and get plugged in!

Giving

You can continue to give either online on our website www.laconiachurch.com and clicking on the green Give button or by mailing your checks to the office. 50 Washington St Laconia, NH 03246

Prayer and Praise

If you have any prayer requests or needs, please email Corianne at: corianne@ebclaconia.com 

The Weekly Epistle 4/29/20

God is in control!  Sound trite?  Is it simply a cliché to talk ourselves off the ledge?  Is it just part of the language we adopt as a Christian?  What does it mean that God is in control?  
 
When we speak of God being in control, we are referring to God providentially superintending all of life situations and events.  In other words, God knows where he is going and knows how to get there.  He is in control of all situations in such a way that he can use whatever material he has to work with to accomplish his good and perfect purposes.  Nothing is powerful enough to get in the way of where He is going.  
 
Does this mean that God disregards human responsibility and choices?  Does he coerce human will?  Do we really have a choice?  The Bible does not teach determinism that God controls our choices.  The Bible teaches God’s sovereign control of the consequences and outcomes of our choices, not His control of those choices.  
 
So, Joseph can say, “You intended to harm me, but God will use it for his good.”  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego can say, “God will deliver us, but even if he doesn’t, we will not bow down to other gods.”  In other words, they trusted God with the outcome of their choice and with their situation.  
 
This becomes very practical.  Trusting that God is in control is liberating.  How so?  First of all, I may not know why God allows certain things to happen, but I am certain of His loving guiding hand in the process.  I have an imaginary file that is labelled, “Things I don’t understand.”  I may wonder why or how or what is going to be the outcome, all the evidence will not be in until the curtain is closed upon history, but I know this- God is always up to something. And whatever He is up to comes from a heart that is good! 
 
Secondly, my choices mean something.   God not only knows how to fit my choice into where He is going, he also has the power to use that choice in whatever way he so chooses.  I do not need to know how God will use a choice of mine, I just need to do what is right, trusting that God will use it.  
 
One of the best books written on the subject of God’s sovereign control of life events is the book of Esther.  I get to preach on this in a couple of weeks (Mother’s Day).  In a book in which God isn’t mentioned at all, God is everywhere in that book.  God used Esther’s choice to accomplish His purposes though at the time she didn’t know the impact of that one choice.  What a privilege to participate and partner with him as we walk by faith each day with the particulars.  
 
Faith is my responsibility in every circumstance regardless of the possible outcome.  We are all responsible to God for every action and attitude.  We can leave the outcome, the consequences, of our actions to God.  These present circumstances?  We need to leave with Him.  We can speculate, we may wonder, we can go out on a limb and predict, but we do not need all the answers in order to move on in our faith.  
 
We will look at this some more this week in our Wednesdays in the Word as we unpack Romans 8:28.  Here is the bottom line:  Knowing the whys and the what ifs of the past or the what will be of the future are not necessary for me to exercise faith in the present.  
 
The true story is told of Ivan Denisovich when he was enduring all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner notices him and says with ridicule, “Prayers won’t help you get out of here any faster.” Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, “I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God.”
 
Blessings to you, Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

The Return

Psalms 126 & Books of Ezra and Nehemiah

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
What We Can Know
Romans 8:28-30

Join Pastor Brian Wednesday evenings at 7pm. 
A video will be available on Facebook, our You Tube channel and our website. 

Bible Reading Plan

We are on week 19 in the Bible reading plan that was given out at the beginning of this sermon series. 

EBC Spring Work Day

Miss coming to church? Well, we have a number of projects we could use your help with. You can volunteer at the church building and social distance at the same time. Email Bill Wixson at buildings@ebclaconia.com or call 524-8580 to sign up for your time slot!
Check out the video for more details 

EBC Facebook Page and Email List

If you are not currently on our EBC Bulletin Board on Facebook or receiving our communications via email, please contact Corianne at corianne@ebclaconia.com 

Community Groups

We are now hosting community groups via Zoom. Please contact your facilitator if you have not already been set up with this app. 
If you are not currently involved with a community group, please contact Tim Whitman tawhitman@liberty.edu and get plugged in!

Giving

You can continue to give either online on our website www.laconiachurch.com and clicking on the green Give button or by mailing your checks to the office. 50 Washington St Laconia, NH 03246

Prayer and Praise

If you have any prayer requests or needs, please email Corianne at: corianne@ebclaconia.com 

The Weekly Epistle 4/22/20

God loves you, and he has a special plan for your life. It just might not feel very special; actually, it can feel pretty awful. 

To illustrate this, we need to look no further than the earliest saints. Peter left everything to follow Jesus, and he was crucified, upside down. Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he was shipwrecked, three times. Moreover, many first Century Christians were martyred, by the tens of thousands. 

Trials and hardships are an inevitable reality of the Christian life. And when we fail to embrace those moments, we’re actually buying into a subtlety deceitful version of the prosperity Gospel. We think that as long as we’re not praying for mansions and limousines, then our faith is rock solid. But let me ask you, when you get angry with God because your car broke down (again), why are you mad? You’re angry at God because he has failed to meet your expectations. And he’s failed to meet your expectations because, at some level, you buy into the prosperity Gospel.

Does this mean that we should reject the prosperity Gospel altogether? No, it just means we need to change our understanding of what it means to prosper. We need to redefine the prosperity Gospel.

In James 1:2-4, the Apostle James exhorts us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Here James presents the true prosperity Gospel. The Gospel prospers, not when our circumstances conform to our desires, but when the essence of who we are conforms to the nature of God.

In his classic hymn, Henry Lyte wrote, 

“Go, then, earthly fame and treasure, 
Come disaster, scorn and pain 
In Thy service, pain is pleasure, 
With Thy favor, loss is gain” 

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that sounds awfully fatalistic.” And you might be right if it were not for the fact that Lyte concludes with this biblical principle.

“I have called Thee Abba Father, 
I have stayed my heart on Thee 
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather; 
All must work for good to me.”

Believer, God is working all things together for your good and his glory. And that is the prosperity gospel redefined. Embrace it that truth today.
 
Blessings, Pastor Dan

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I Kings 20 – 2 Kings 25

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
God’s Most Prized Creation

Psalm 139:13-16

Join Pastor Brian Wednesday evenings at 7pm. 
A video will be available on Facebook, our You Tube channel and our website. 

Food Drive

We will be hosting another Food Drive to help benefit The Christ Life Center at the Lakes Region Vineyard Church. Drop off times are Friday 4/24 4pm-6pm and Saturday 4/25 9am – 11 am.
 Please contact Susan Lyle with any questions susanlyle@gmail.com or 892-2998

EBC Facebook Page and Email List

If you are not currently on our EBC Bulletin Board on Facebook or receiving our communications via email, please contact Corianne at corianne@ebclaconia.com 

Community Groups

We are now hosting community groups via Zoom. Please contact your facilitator if you have not already been set up with this app. 
If you are not currently involved with a community group, please contact Tim Whitman tawhitman@liberty.edu and get plugged in!

EBC Campus Work Projects

Miss coming to church? Well, we have a number of projects we could use your help with. You can volunteer at the church building and social distance at the same time. Check out the video for more details Click HERE

Giving

You can continue to give either online on our website www.laconiachurch.com and clicking on the green Give button or by mailing your checks to the office. 50 Washington St Laconia, NH 03246

Prayer and Praise

If you have any prayer requests or needs, please email Corianne at: corianne@ebclaconia.com