The Power of Encouragement

One of the most difficult jobs during a presidential election has to be that of a pastor. Although noticing a number of ministers openly endorsing one candidate or another, I've often thought that this action could alienate members of his/her congregation. 
 
If you haven't noticed, our church is not uniform when it comes to political views. We don't impose a litmus test to ensure conformity or distribute voting guides to tell our people how to vote. 
 
I have my concerns about what this can do to the body of Christ. 
 
Each of us have his/her own opinions. My desire as pastor, however, is to keep us focused on our task as the people of God and allow room for people with different viewpoints. This isn't always easy, but it is Baptist.
 
I came across this wonderful quote in my reading this week:    

    "Why is praise so prevalent in Scripture? When praising God, our minds move away from ourselves. We quit thinking about how bad off we are. We drop our 'poor little me-isms' and God turns us to focus on His goodness and sovereignty" (Calvin Miller, The Power of Encouragement). 

 
You've heard it said time and again how much we have been blessed. It's important to keep reinforcing this principle of gratitude in our church; we have the privilege of going through life together in our community of faith.
 
Yes, it's easy to become cynical these days. During these last few weeks, major political parties have held their conventions. There's no shortage of vitriol and animosity toward others who hold different political or social positions. This will only intensify as our nation moves toward November and the election of our next president.
 
It's discouraging to see statements on social media that very few would make in person to someone else. Some have written things like, "I don't see how you can be a Christian and be a Republican/Democrat." Social media can devolve into a cesspool of hatred toward candidates, those who support them, and those who disagree with them.  
 
This isn't our first election cycle to go through. But, I mention this because I believe we are heading into one of the most heated and possibly most hateful presidential elections in modern history. 
 
Regardless of who is elected our next president, it's important to remember that God is still God. Let's not go crazy or lash out on social media. We can be passionate, but when things are getting too heated, may we "be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46.10 NIV).
 
One of the core values of UHBC is "the separation of church and state." We believe in a free church in a free state. We agree to disagree without breaking fellowship with each other. Faith will necessarily intersect with politics, but we don't all agree on how that is to happen or what that should look like. We are a tapestry of different political, social, and theological positions. 
 
No church is perfect. But, I am so grateful for the spirit and personality of UHBC as we navigate through this political season. As we do so, may we affirm our unity around the only and earliest creed that Baptists should affirm: "Jesus Christ is Lord." Let us put the Kingdom of God first and foremost, even as we may struggle with differences of opinion that are important to us.
 
I hope you'll join me in "keeping the main thing the main thing" through the remainder of 2016. Good things are happening in our church. I'm looking forward to kicking off the Fall, meeting new people, and serving our risen Lord. Let's praise God for that and be open to the Holy Spirit's leadership as we move forward, together.
 

Your pastor and friend,

 

Danny

Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writer's Group

 

Encouraging Christian Writers

“When you help others do what God created them to do, you share in their achievement.” – John C. Maxwell

Do you have a book in you? Perhaps your ideas can become a short story, magazine article, newspaper column, devotion, or poem. How do you learn to write well, publish, and change the world – or at least your corner of it?

In response to a felt need, we began the Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers in 2007 with seven people and a dream to help train and encourage writers. A recent count showed 53 members, with a mailing list of more than 150 interested people.

Our vision is “to help and encourage each another - whether in writing for Christian publications or writing for the secular press in ways consistent with our Christian faith”.

"OzarksACW is a safe, friendly place to learn and grow as a writer.”– Wanda Higgins

"I highly value the opportunity to upgrade my writing skills…and network with other writers.” – James Cole-Rous

Visitors are welcome to attend any of our nine Second Saturday meetings, September through May, where average attendance is about 35 members and 3 visitors, with a high of 45 members and visitors in March 2016, ranging in age from Middle School to 80+ and more than 1/3 men.  We gather about 9:30 am for coffee and fellowship, starting each meeting promptly at 10:00 am, and closing each meeting at 12 noon. After the main meetings, our critique groups go to lunch together at area restaurants to help each other edit current writing drafts.

 “I am blessed by the fellowship with Christians of many denominations who accept and understand God inspires me to write.” – Katie Abrams

“I became inspired to write poetry and ponderings each morning that have deepened my communication with God.” – John Pennell

Each meeting has three sections: a mini-series training topic that continues month-to-month, a fellowship break with member-provided snacks to munch while networking with other writers, and a keynote speaker. Each month’s speaker presents in a different genre or writing topic.

A few past topics are: writing non-fiction, interviewing, playwriting, editing, poetry, social networking, writing for children, songwriting, writing devotions, and copyrights.

Past speakers include: Ron Boutwell, founder of Stained Glass Theatre; John Maempa, Director of the National Prayer Center; Barclay Newman, lead translator for the Contemporary English Version of the Bible; Paul Smith, Director of Editorial Services at Gospel Publishing House; Lori Copeland, author of 40+ romance novels; and many others.

  “I’m a wanna-be-writer. [OCACW] is a fun way to learn.” – Judy Zimmerman

“Its excellent training keeps me from giving up.” – Tania Gray

“OCACW encourages my blog, which now reaches people around the world.” – John Hill

If you have an interest in learning to write well, are already an author, or want to get back into writing, we are here to help guide you. More information is available at www.OzarksACW.org .

 

Jeanetta Chrystie, OCACW President