The Weekly Epistle 2/17/21

Do you ever wonder, why?  You tell a person there’s 400 billion stars and he’ll believe you, but tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it? Why?  
 
Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle? 
 
If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes? 
 
Why are there five syllables in the word monosyllabic?  
 
Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?  
 
When two airplanes almost collide, why do they call it a “near miss” sounds like a “near hit” to me? 
 
Speaking of airplanes, if the black box flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn’t the whole airplane made of that stuff?  Why?  Probably the most asked question in the English language. It has been noted that a child can ask 14 whys in 4 minutes. 
 
In the gospel of John, when Jesus’ disciples encounter the man born blind, they asked, “Why was this man born blind?”  Jesus in a masterful way doesn’t directly answer their question, but He turns their why question into a how.  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (see John 9:1-3). 
 
It is fine to ask why.  God hears those prayers.  Asking why helps us process our hurt and brokenness.  It can move us to greater trust in our Savior.  
 
But somewhere in that process God wants to turn our why into how.  How might God use this trying time to fulfill His purposes?  How might God use that pain to serve the Christian community?  How might God use this struggle to bring me into a deeper relationship with Him?  How might God use this mess to show off His power?  How might my story fit into the greater story of God’s plan of Redemption?  
 
Laura Story put it this way, “The myth is that contentment begins with understanding why.  The truth is contentment begins with asking how God might use this for His glory.”
 
There are many matters we don’t understand.  I find myself asking why again and again.  There is really nothing wrong with that.  Yet I also know how draining it can be.  I know that it can overwhelm my heart so that my preoccupation is on the things that are out of my control.  It can become very unproductive.  I really don’t need to understand why before I make myself available for His work through me.  I don’t need to have it all figured out before serving Him.  
 
His purposes are so much bigger than ours and someday we will see it in totality.  Someday it will all make sense.  For the time being, get involved.  For now, jump in fully doing the will of God.  Trust Him with the whys and find excitement in how God might use your situation to bring glory to Him.   
 
Blessings to you, church! 
 
Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

One Person’s Dream, Everyone Else’s Nightmare
Daniel 2:1-18

Link to This Sunday Worship Service

 

Service Change

We are now offering two services. The 9 am service, masks will be required to be worn for the entire worship service. The 10:45 am service will continue as is and you may choose to remove masks once you are seated. Masks must be worn while entering and leaving the building as well as during fellowship time. 
We will continue to livestream at 10:45 am.
We are doing this on a temporary basis to be considerate and loving of those who would like to attend but prefer stricter guidelines around masks.

Save the Date 
Business Meeting

Our next business meet will be Thursday March 25th at 7pm with a prayer time at 6:30pm. Please mark this on your calendar and come out for an update on EBC happenings.

Discovery Class

Join us for 4 weeks beginning March 7th on Sunday mornings at 9am. This class is for those looking for more information about our church and those considering membership.

Office Hours Next Week

Due to next week being school vacation week, the office administrator will be out of the office next week.
You can reach Corianne via email at corianne@ebclaconia throughout the week

Prayer and Praise

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

The Weekly Epistle 2/11/21

“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
—1 Peter 2:5

 
Dear EBC family,
This past Sunday may have been one of the most tenderhearted moments in the history of our little church. After months of health-imposed isolation, 15 members of the EBC family were able to return to in-person services due to some simple policy changes made concerning EBC’s COVID response. There were more than a few tears shed as friends gathered in flesh and blood for the first time in nearly a year.


As Evangelical Christians, our personal relationship with Jesus is absolutely core to our faith.
Jesus is not some lifeless icon adorning a cross in an equally lifeless cathedral. Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior. He resides in our hearts. He meets us in the secret quiet places of our lives. He knows us intimately, and we know him. 

However, is it possible for our personal relationship with Jesus to get too personal?
While we do indeed have a personal relationship with Jesus, we do not have an exclusive relationship with him. Jesus didn’t have a disciple. He had disciples. It wasn’t just Jesus and Peter. It was Jesus, Peter, James, John, nine other guys, and a fair number of ladies. He didn’t call any one of them into an exclusive friendship. He called all of them into the greater fellowship of the disciples. Our personal relationship with Jesus gets too personal when we exclude other believers.

Jesus established the Church because he knew we needed more than he alone could supply.
Jesus established the Church because he knew we needed each other. We need the love, encouragement, and support of our fellow Christians to keep us moving forward in our walk with him. 

Pursue your personal relationship with Jesus, just don’t exclude his bride.
The isolation imposed by COVID is one thing, but many of us flounder in self-imposed isolation that leaves our faith cold and anemic. As anyone of the aforementioned attenders can testify, we need each other. The Church isn’t just a part of the Christian experience. It is the Christian experience.  


Here are four ways you can engage in the church this week.

  1. Engage in the worship life of EBC: Through our Sunday worship service, we engage Jesus and each other through the ministry of music and the Word.
  2. Engage in the communal study of God’s Word: Through our Sunday Studies, we dive deeper into the life-changing Word of God and Christian living through cooperative study and discussion. We are currently offering two classes. See details below.
  3. Engage in the fellowship of the saints: Through our Community Groups, we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus as we grow deeper in our relationship with each other. To join a community group, contact Tim Whitman (tawhitman@liberty.edu).
  1. Engage in the service of others: Through our acts of service to others, we become more like Jesus and bring honor to him as we meet the needs of others. To learn about the ways you can serve, contact the church office (office@ebclaconia.com).

 
Blessings, 
 
Pastor Dan

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

The Effect on One Decision
Daniel 1:8-21

Link to This Sunday Worship Service

 

Service Change

We are now offering two services. The 9 am service, masks will be required to be worn for the entire worship service. The 10:45 am service will continue as is and you may choose to remove masks once you are seated. Masks must be worn while entering and leaving the building as well as during fellowship time. 
We will continue to livestream at 10:45 am.
We are doing this on a temporary basis to be considerate and loving of those who would like to attend but prefer stricter guidelines around masks.

Save the Date 
Business Meeting

Our next business meet will be Thursday March 25th at 7pm with a prayer time at 6:30pm. Please mark this on your calendar and come out for an update on EBC happenings.

Discovery Class

Join us for 4 weeks beginning March 7th on Sunday mornings at 9am. This class is for those looking for more information about our church and those considering membership.

EBC Sunday Study

It’s not too late to join one of our 4 week Sunday morning Studies we are offering. These studies will meet Sunday morning at 9am downstairs in the Fellowship Hall and Room 104. Please see the details below on each of the studies being offered.

Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
 With Adam Hayes
Overexposure is one of the greatest threats to peace in the modern church. With access to every corner of the world and into the living rooms of so many individuals, church members often willingly put themselves in the way of fear and envy. While this feels like a modern problem, the heart of the matter is ancient. This class will be an opportunity to turn your attention away from all that’s robbing you and others of peace and reconnect you with your God who promises to protect and provide.
 Objectives for this study: 
·      Address the temptations of fear and envy that stir when we dwell on the world’s prosperity and progress apart from God. 
·      Replace rumination with God’s eternal promises, so that we can live our calling confidently; trusting that He is our strength and portion forever.

Living Grace
With Susan Lyle
 The Living Grace Class is a discipleship growth experience intended for people who struggle with mental and emotional challenges (e.g., anxiety, panic, depression, and/or other diagnoses). As a group, we will explore biblical truths, scientific research, and practical tools to cultivate healthy hearts and minds. Topics include identity in Christ, renewing your mind, managing stress, and relaxation and joy.
Objectives for this study:
·      To better know and understand who we are in Christ specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional struggles. 
·      To help build individual resilience in navigating mental and emotional challenges.
·      To cultivate a safe and supportive network of individuals with mental and emotional challenges.

Prayer and Praise

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

The Weekly Epistle 2/4/21

“Some people stay away from Christianity not because they don’t know any Christians, but because they do.”  Not sure who said that, but it got me thinking.  At first, I feel that this is an overstatement.  It sounds like nothing more than an excuse.  I mean, if you want to find reasons to not explore the claims of Christ, then there will be plenty of evidence to support your decision.  But Scripture speaks of “being without excuse” on the day of judgment.  
 
On the other hand, even though someone might not hit the bullseye, doesn’t mean that they missed the target completely.  The truth is that our example as followers of Jesus Christ can get in the way of people seeing the true Christ. 
 
This past week I was talking to one of the parents of a girl on my basketball team when he referenced a church that didn’t have a good reputation.  I am familiar with the church.  He knows I am a pastor, and I could tell he was waiting for a response from me.  I have the best comebacks…three days later.  What I said was, “Don’t lump all churches together.”  What I thought of later to say was, “Yeah you agree with Jesus.  He had a serious problem with hypocrisy.”
 
What is hypocrisy?  We are not hypocrites because we can’t condone certain behaviors.  We are not hypocrites because we sin.  We are not perfect and will fall short.  But that is not hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy is pretending to be something we are not.  Hypocrisy is giving the appearance of godliness, but our actions reveal a heart that is more concerned with power or money or the praise of people. 
 
Our actions and words as Christians matter!  Our behavior can either attract or repel.  
 
What if our love for Christ was more deeply grounded in the character of Jesus?  What if we showed a more profound hope in what we have in Jesus?  What if we lived more for His glory?  What if we took seriously, “In everything give thanks”?  What if…
 
As we begin a new sermon series this Sunday on the book of Daniel, we will see the power of one man’s faith.  We shouldn’t super humanize Daniel, for like Elijah, he was a man just like us.  But he was a man of influence in a very dark time in Israel’s history.  We too can be a bright spot in a dark world!  Are you excited for this study in Daniel?  I am!
 
I am also excited about worshipping with you this Sunday.  And hopefully with some others I have not worshipped with in person for a while.  Don’t forget that we have added the first service at 9:00 with a few changes to mask protocol.  For the first service only, we are requiring that masks be worn throughout the service, except for those leading in worship.  No changes to the second service.  
 
Have you heard about the two four-week Sunday studies beginning this Sunday?  See the descriptions below.  They will be at 9:00 in the classroom’s downstairs of the church.  Masks should be worn to and from the class and the chairs will be arranged in compliance with social distancing.  
 
Have a great rest of the week!  My thoughts and prayers are with you!  Blessings, Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

Cooperation Without Compromise
Daniel 1:1-8

Link to This Sunday Worship Service

 

New Sermon Series

A Bright Spot in a Dark World
A study in the Book of Daniel
Begins this Sunday

Service Change

Beginning this Sunday February 7th , we will be offering 2 services.
The 9 am service, masks will be required to be worn for the entire worship service.
The 10:45 am service will continue as is and you may choose to remove masks once you are seated. Masks must be worn while entering and leaving the building as well as during fellowship time. We will continue to livestream at 10:45 am.
We are doing this on a temporary basis to be considerate and loving of those who would like to attend but prefer stricter guidelines around masks.

Communion

We will be celebrating communion this Sunday during both services. If you are worshipping with us from home, please have your communion elements ready Sunday morning.

Valentines Cards

Just a reminder to bring back the Valentines Cards for the residents at 2 local nursing homes. These cards will be used to show each one of the 370 residents God’s love. Thank you to all who participated in this local missions project. 
All cards are due back no later than this Sunday February 7th

Discovery Class

Join us for 4 weeks beginning March 7th on Sunday mornings at 9am. This class is for those looking for more information about our church and those considering membership.

EBC Sunday Study

We’re excited to offer two four-week adult studies this February. Each study will meet at EBC, Sunday morning from 9-10:15 AM. See below for a detailed description of each study.
 
Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
 With Adam Hayes
Overexposure is one of the greatest threats to peace in the modern church. With access to every corner of the world and into the living rooms of so many individuals, church members often willingly put themselves in the way of fear and envy. While this feels like a modern problem, the heart of the matter is ancient. This class will be an opportunity to turn your attention away from all that’s robbing you and others of peace and reconnect you with your God who promises to protect and provide.
 Objectives for this study: 
·      Address the temptations of fear and envy that stir when we dwell on the world’s prosperity and progress apart from God. 
·      Replace rumination with God’s eternal promises, so that we can live our calling confidently; trusting that He is our strength and portion forever.
 
Living Grace
With Susan Lyle
 The Living Grace Class is a discipleship growth experience intended for people who struggle with mental and emotional challenges (e.g., anxiety, panic, depression, and/or other diagnoses). As a group, we will explore biblical truths, scientific research, and practical tools to cultivate healthy hearts and minds. Topics include identity in Christ, renewing your mind, managing stress, and relaxation and joy.
Objectives for this study:
·      To better know and understand who we are in Christ specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional struggles. 
·      To help build individual resilience in navigating mental and emotional challenges.
·      To cultivate a safe and supportive network of individuals with mental and emotional challenges.

Prayer and Praise

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

The Weekly Epistle 1/27/21

At a pastor’s conference at Moody Bible Institute there was a large sign that hung above the platform for all pastors to see.  Each time the pastors gathered together in this room, they would see this sign.  In big bold letters it said, “Relax pastors for once you are not in charge!” 
 
The truth is, we really are not in charge.  And that isn’t a message just for pastors.  We are not in charge.  God is. 
 
I have been talking with a friend from Portland lately about the man Job.  No matter how many times I consider the book of Job, it causes me to seriously think about the bigger picture.  In the case of Job, there is a drama being played out without Job’s knowledge.  God didn’t ask Job for his input on things.  Throughout the 42 chapters, have you noticed, Job isn’t even filled in on what was going on?  God gave Satan permission to ransack Job’s life if you will.  And there was nothing Job could do about it.  What was the one thing in Job’s control?  His response.  Satan doesn’t win unless Job curses God.  
 
Isn’t that true for us as well?  When it comes to what is being played out around us, either on a personal level or the bigger picture, we aren’t always filled in on what is going on.  What is the one thing that matters the most?  Our personal character.  Our integrity.  Our response. 
 
Church, our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  I have been reminded of Ephesians 6:10-17.  We do not fight with worldly weapons but are called to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  As we choose our clothes to wear for the day, don’t forget to put on your spiritual clothes- spiritual armor.  
 
Be encouraged for as Job had to learn in a greater way, God is Sovereign.  He is in charge.  Satan is not God’s counterpart.  They are not equal in power.  Satan is limited.  God’s power is unlimited.  And no power on earth can stop us from what God calls us to do.  
 
At Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus it was clear what Saul’s mission was to be from that moment forward.  Jesus said to Saul, “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins” (see Acts 9 & 26:17-18).  That continues to be our focus as followers of Christ and as a church.  
 
In closing, I remind you of 2/7.  Not the Superbowl, but that there are two studies to choose from on Sunday mornings at 9:00.  They are both 4-week studies and check out the description of these excellent studies in the announcements.  Also, on 2/7 we will be bringing our 9:00 worship service back.  But with this significant change.  Like the second service where masks are required to and from your seats, the first service will further require masks even while you are seated.  We are doing this on a temporary basis to be considerate and loving of those who would like to attend but prefer stricter guidelines around masks.  
 
We do not want to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes to disrupt our unity but seek to guard our unity here at EBC.  
 
Blessings to you, Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

More Certainties to Live By
1 John 5:13-21

Link to This Sunday Worship Service

 

New Sermon Series

A Bright Spot in a Dark World
A study in the Book of Daniel
Begins February 7th

Service Change

Beginning Sunday February 7th , we will be offering 2 services.
The 9 am service, masks will be required to be worn for the entire worship service.
The 10:45 am service will continue as is and you may choose to remove masks once you are seated. Masks must be worn while entering and leaving the building as well as during fellowship time. We will continue to livestream at 10:45 am.
We are doing this on a temporary basis to be considerate and loving of those who would like to attend but prefer stricter guidelines around masks.

Valentines Cards

Just a reminder to bring back the Valentines Cards you picked up for the residents at 2 local nursing homes. These cards will be used to show each one of the 370 residents God’s love. Thank you to all who participated in this local missions project. 
All cards are due back no later than Sunday February 7th

EBC Sunday Study

We’re excited to offer two four-week adult studies this February. Each study will meet at EBC, Sunday morning from 9-10:15 AM. See below for a detailed description of each study.
 
Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
 With Adam Hayes
Overexposure is one of the greatest threats to peace in the modern church. With access to every corner of the world and into the living rooms of so many individuals, church members often willingly put themselves in the way of fear and envy. While this feels like a modern problem, the heart of the matter is ancient. This class will be an opportunity to turn your attention away from all that’s robbing you and others of peace and reconnect you with your God who promises to protect and provide.
 Objectives for this study: 
·      Address the temptations of fear and envy that stir when we dwell on the world’s prosperity and progress apart from God. 
·      Replace rumination with God’s eternal promises, so that we can live our calling confidently; trusting that He is our strength and portion forever.
 
Living Grace
With Susan Lyle
 The Living Grace Class is a discipleship growth experience intended for people who struggle with mental and emotional challenges (e.g., anxiety, panic, depression, and/or other diagnoses). As a group, we will explore biblical truths, scientific research, and practical tools to cultivate healthy hearts and minds. Topics include identity in Christ, renewing your mind, managing stress, and relaxation and joy.
Objectives for this study:
·      To better know and understand who we are in Christ specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional struggles. 
·      To help build individual resilience in navigating mental and emotional challenges.
·      To cultivate a safe and supportive network of individuals with mental and emotional challenges.

Prayer and Praise

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

The Weekly Epistle 1/20/21

Can God create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it?  If we say yes to that, then we concede that there is something God can’t do.  God couldn’t lift the rock.  If we say no to that, then we are saying God can’t create a rock, he can’t lift.  It is a trick question meant to affirm that God is not all-powerful.  So, the argument goes.
 
Trick questions are not unfamiliar to Jesus.  Many times, in the gospels the religious leaders tried to trap Jesus in a no-win situation.  It was on the heels of those kind of questions that we often find the words, “Then no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
 
Do you remember the time when Jesus was asked, “Should we pay taxes to the Romans?”  Would he side with the Romans by saying yes and turn the Jewish people who hated the Romans against Him?  Or would he say no and get in trouble with the Romans?  Seems like a No-win!  Check out Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:21-25 to see how Jesus beautifully handles this predicament.  
 
Let me draw out one conclusion from this true story in Jesus’ life.  Jesus puts politics in its place.  Jesus does not merge God and Caesar.  Our primary allegiance is to Christ and His kingly rule.  We belong to a heavenly kingdom and Christ is our king.  Jesus is not an American king!  His realm is global.  
 
This is a tough week for many Christians.  But when is our hope ever to be in a person or a politician?  Jesus said to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place” (Matthew 18:36).  Church, at the risk of being redundant, our primary allegiance is to Christ.  Let’s not take what is secondary and make it primary. 
 
We are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all the other things we often get all worked up about will be taken care of.  If that is our preoccupation, then we won’t have as much time to fill our minds with secondary things.  We have the gospel that is more powerful than any weapon of this world.  We serve an all-powerful God who stamped His image on us to represent Him in this world.  What banner are we lifting for all to see?  What is the hope that lies within us?  Does the world know what king we are following?  
 
May our allegiance be clear to all- Jesus is our Savior and king!  May our witness never be compromised, and the gospel message obscured because we, myself included, have made a secondary allegiance primary.  
 
I leave you with this.  No matter how much we love our country and thankful for where we have come from, we look forward to the kingdom in which Christ reigns.  It says in Revelation 11:15, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign for ever and ever.”  The kingdom in which Christ reigns is made up of all the nations of the world under His authority.  
 
Now that is what helps me sleep at night…well most of the time!
 
Blessings to you, church!  Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

Living with Gospel Confidence
1 John 5:6-13

Link to This Sunday Worship Service

 

New Sermon Series

A Bright Spot in a Dark World
A study in the Book of Daniel
Begins February 7th

EBC Sunday Study

We’re excited to offer two four-week adult studies this February. Each study will meet at EBC, Sunday morning from 9-10:15 AM. See below for a detailed description of each study.
 
Take The World, But Give Me Jesus
 With Adam Hayes
Overexposure is one of the greatest threats to peace in the modern church. With access to every corner of the world and into the living rooms of so many individuals, church members often willingly put themselves in the way of fear and envy. While this feels like a modern problem, the heart of the matter is ancient. This class will be an opportunity to turn your attention away from all that’s robbing you and others of peace and reconnect you with your God who promises to protect and provide.
 Objectives for this study: 
·      Address the temptations of fear and envy that stir when we dwell on the world’s prosperity and progress apart from God. 
·      Replace rumination with God’s eternal promises, so that we can live our calling confidently; trusting that He is our strength and portion forever.
 
Living Grace
With Susan Lyle
 The Living Grace Class is a discipleship growth experience intended for people who struggle with mental and emotional challenges (e.g., anxiety, panic, depression, and/or other diagnoses). As a group, we will explore biblical truths, scientific research, and practical tools to cultivate healthy hearts and minds. Topics include identity in Christ, renewing your mind, managing stress, and relaxation and joy.
Objectives for this study:
·      To better know and understand who we are in Christ specifically as it relates to our mental and emotional struggles. 
·      To help build individual resilience in navigating mental and emotional challenges.
·      To cultivate a safe and supportive network of individuals with mental and emotional challenges.

Community Groups

Sign up in the back of the sanctuary this Sunday for the next round of Community Groups, or contact Tim Whitman at tawhitman@liberty.edu 

Masks Required

Just a reminder we are asking that you please wear a mask when entering or leaving the building. You may remove the mask once seated. We have designated a section in the back right of the sanctuary for those who prefer to wear a mask throughout the service. 
Signs will be posted on the designated seats, please leave these seats available for those who choose to wear a mask during the entire service.

Change in Service

Reminder, for the time being we are offering one in person service at 10:45 am.
Our livestream will also be at 10:45 am as well. Nursery will be provided from birth to age 5.

EBC Cancellations

In the event of bad weather that would potentially impact services at Evangelical Baptist Church, the following will be taken into consideration: the current weather in Laconia, the timing of the weather event, and whether roads/walkways/parking areas are/will be cleared
A decision would be made by 7:30 am to cancel one or more of our services.  Events in the afternoon or evening would be dealt with separately.  EBC will notify of cancellation using the following: WMUR TV, Church website news feed: www.laconiachurch.com, Email (weekly epistle email list) and EBC’s public and private Facebook page

Prayer and Praise

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