CTS Deadline Approaching

“Please find attached information about this year’s Ministry Expo (CTS) Competition.  The deadline for entries is fast approaching – APRIL 16, 2021.  

Let me hear from you if you have children participating!!!!

This is a wonderful activity for the children Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade to learn and grow in Christ and to cultivate their talents for Christ.”

Teressa Voltz

Ministry Expo (CTS) 2021

● State Ministry Expo (CTS) Competition – Saturday, May 1, 2021
● Location: Fellowship FWB Church, Bryan, Texas
● Start Time: 10:00 am
● Entries due to Teressa Voltz via email or snail mail by Friday, April 16, 2021
○ mtvoltz@consolidated.net
○ 832.647.3458
○ 822 Weeping Willow Way, Magnolia, TX 77354
● Retrieve entry forms and guidelines at http://www.verticalthree.com
● Fees can me mailed to Teressa Voltz or turned in on the day of competition
● Questions? Either contact verticalthree or Teressa Voltz mtvoltz@consolidated.net or
832.647.3458
● Why participate?
○ Great way to have students memorize scripture
○ Develop and nurture the talents God has given

State Meeting Hotel Information

“Hi everyone,

Details of this year’s State Meeting schedule (on Wednesday-Thursday June 9-10) are being developed and we will share them when they are finalized, but I wanted to share the information on the hotel so that you can begin making reservations.  Wes Hood has made arrangements with the La Quinta Inn & Suites Austin Cedar Park, located near Lakehills Church, for a special group rate for those who are attending the meeting.

Below is the booking link for the hotel.  The default is arrival on Tuesday (June 8) and departure on Friday (June 11), but you can change those dates to match your arrival and departure.  If you need additional nights outside of the June 8-11 period you can call the hotel directly.  The reservation deadline to obtain the reduced group rate is no later than May 18.

Book My Room

Please let Pastor Wes or me know if you have any questions about the hotel.”

Blessings,

Marcus

Marcus Brewer

Moderator/State Office Coordinator

Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists

P.O. Box 2716

Bryan, TX  77805-2716

(979) 774-3125

stateoffice@texasfwb.org

www.texasfwb.org

Tornado Relief

“Hi everyone,

Some of you have already heard and responded, but for those of you who haven’t, Buncombe FWB Church in Carthage was devastated by the tornado that came through East Texas on Saturday, March 27.  While no people were injured at the church during the storm, this has been a heartbreaking loss to the church family and a heavy financial burden.  As they are moving through cleanup efforts and preparing for the repair and rebuild phase, they are requesting any assistance that our churches may provide, whether in finances, supplies, or labor.  If you can make a financial donation, they are asking that you send it to the church mailing address. 

Buncombe Free Will Baptist Church

464 County Road 118

Carthage, TX 75633

If you have any questions (perhaps about supplies or helping with a future work day at the church) you can call Pastor Wade Rector (870-656-7553) or Phyllis Griffith (903-754-0126), or I can route any questions to them that are directed to the State Office. 

They have expressed that and all help would be greatly appreciated.  Please consider what you may be able to do as churches and individuals to help them, and please continue to keep them in your prayers.”

Blessings,

Marcus

Marcus Brewer

Moderator/State Office Coordinator

Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists

P.O. Box 2716

Bryan, TX  77805-2716

(979) 774-3125

stateoffice@texasfwb.org

www.texasfwb.org

Shine! Advice for Teens

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“As a teenager, it’s easy to use the excuse of age when it comes to really anything, but especially spiritual matters. It’s common to feel like you’re not experienced enough, old enough, or wise enough to make a difference. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter your age, you are capable of doing great things for the kingdom of God. God has given you a purpose and a calling, even at a young age. Just because you are young, it doesn’t mean that you are incapable. You actually have a lot to offer the world. God sees you as valuable. He created you to serve Him and bring Glory to His name, and He never said you had to wait until you were older to do either of those things. So don’t let your age be an excuse, but rather let it be a strength!”

Was Ravi Saved?

I remember one particular instance when I was at a Christian bookstore speaking to one of the employees. It was a few years back, when Josh Hamilton was still playing baseball and it was for the Texas Rangers. This must’ve been around 2010 or 2011, because it was when he was at the height of his career and he was relatively scandal free at the time. He was also my favorite player. Josh Hamilton’s autobiography came out in around ‘08-’09. This was the book me and the bookstore employee were looking at. I remember this employee looked at Josh’s eyes and said, “There is evil in those eyes. I don’t believe he is actually done with his demons.” Which I didn’t like, because Josh was my favorite player and played for my favorite team! 

There have been times myself when I looked at people as if I could tell what was going on in their mind and heart. As a parent I wish I could see what is bouncing around in my daughter’s mind and heart, so I could help her, or just say, “Stop thinking about that!” As a pastor I share the same sentiment. “No that is not right! Stop thinking about that and do this!” 

By now you probably know or have heard something about the Ravi Zacharias scandal. I’ll admit, sometimes when I see his picture pop up online, or I see one of his books with his picture on it, I try to examine what’s going on in his head by looking at his eyes. I don’t know what his standing was with God during his life. I don’t know if he truly made a real faith commitment in Jesus or not. When it comes down to it, it’s not up to me whether or not he got into heaven, or not. 

I bring this up, because I have been posed the question, as have many others in the previous weeks, “Where is Ravi now?” My simple answer is, I don’t know? We’ll find out one day. However, it’s not my intent to harp on that particular question. Instead, I want to talk about what we should see from the lives of people who call themselves Christians. So churches, pastors, church leaders, it’s imperative that we do a better job teaching the church what it means to follow Jesus (and more specifically for the topic at hand) and what evidence should flow from their life.

Evidence of a Christian

Rather than our churches have a conveyor belt mentality to evangelism (say this prayer…move it along), we need to teach, train, point out scripture, and just walk people through life to know how to follow Christ. 

Understand the Gospel

First and foremost, the church and anyone exploring becoming a Christian needs be fed a steady diet of the gospel. Pastors, do your people know the gospel? Do they know why they need Jesus? Do they understand sin? Do they understand they are not saved by works? Do they understand how to be saved? Do they understand how to share their faith with someone? Get to know your people and find out how confident they are if they were asked by someone what they need to do to be saved. So as evidence of someone who is saved, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to say that a saved person should know the gospel. Right? If not, what did they believe (Rom. 10:13-14)?

There Should Be Fruit

The Christian should see this in themselves and others should see it too. This is the most outward, clear sign you think of when we speak of evidence or fruit in a person’s life. “What exactly are they physically doing and saying?” So there are things we should be seeing in each other. Galatians 5 comes to mind in regards to the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Bible actually tells us to examine our lives to see whether we’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The very fact that Jesus tells us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21), should be sufficient fuel to wake us from complacency and thinking everyone understands the truth. Jesus speaks of what we should see in our lives in the second part of that verse, “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” So what is the fruit we should see in our lives and in the lives of all believers? Love of God and obedience to His word.

They Should Hate Sin

 I single this one out, because I think it naturally comes from being obedient to God. The more you fill your life with God, His word, and the things of His kingdom, the less room there is for the stuff of this world. I always tell people that they have to know they need to be saved before anything else. If you don’t know you are broken, then you won’t come to Jesus. Follow this train of thought. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The place to start is to see that you need help and forgiveness. Then Proverbs later goes on to give us a little more detail on what fearing God entails. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil (Pr. 8:13).” 

We Need Accountability

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:1-2).” James reminds us as well to pray for each and confess our sins so we can be healed (Jas. 5:16) There is a calling and responsibility to being a follower of Jesus. There is also a responsibility we have towards each other as believers and leaders. We must take this seriously. We have His words to live by. He tells us plainly to obey them and that when we do, it shows we love Him because we trust Him. 

Was Ravi Zacharias saved? I can’t answer that. What his hidden sin, that is now in the light, should do for us who are still here is push us to be more intentional. Be more intentional about knowing the truth of scripture. Be more intentional about taking His command to obey His word by turning from sin, repenting of sin, and confessing it to other believers. I’ve heard the statement many times: God is good…all the time. And all the time…God is good. Those words don’t even begin to express how true that statement really is. But let’s take the calling to live for God fully. We cannot lean heavy on the grace side to the neglect of His justice and wrath. God is good all the time.  As a perfect and holy God, He calls for His people to follow Him by obeying Him and loving each other enough to not turn a blind eye to sin.

Prayers for the Wisehart Family

“Dr. Mary Ruth Wisehart dies at age 88

Dr. Mary Ruth Wisehart, long-time Welch professor, died earlier this morning. She was 88 years old.

Dr. Wisehart began teaching at Welch in January of 1956 and continued until 1985. After graduating from Welch in 1955, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from George Peabody College in Nashville, now a part of Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Wisehart taught English, speech, literature, and Spanish. She also helped collect and organize much of the historical information about the college’s early years. After leaving Welch, she served thirteen years as the Executive Director of Women Nationally Active for Christ, the national women’s organization of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Please join the college family in prayers for the family and friends of Mary Ruth Wisehart, as well as in prayers of thanks for her enduring work for the kingdom of God.”

Article from Becky Gwartney

Dodging Darts of Discouragement to Discover the Best Version of Me
By Becky Gwartney

I love the study of personalities—learning about the various distinctions in others and realizing God created them that way…for a reason. 

This realization has been life-changing and grace-giving for me. Before I studied personalities, I tended to judge others based on what I saw and how it compared to who I was or how I was. When I realized God made some people different from me, and that they hadn’t chosen to be the way they are, it was freeing for me (and for them). I was able to let go of judgmental thoughts about what I perceived as failures. 

As a pastor’s wife, I meet all kinds of people, work with all personality types, and minister to people who are sometimes hard to love. Some are easier to work with than others, but don’t think for a moment that means they are just like me. (Two choleric/lion/headstrong/dominant personalities working together do not make a good combination.) Ministry brings certain challenges. One of those challenges is when our personality clashes with another person in the church. If our relationship with Christ is where it should be, we won’t be the one “throwing darts.” But, when someone else hits the bullseye and pierces our spirit, it can be crushing and leave us feeling our ministry is over. 

“Why would God create me like this to be a failure?” “Why would He give me these personality traits if they are going to hurt my husband’s ministry?” 

Maybe you have asked yourself these questions. Recently, after a soul-crushing conversation, I found myself asking them again and again. I also wondered, “Is this from Satan? Is he trying to destroy what God is doing in our church?” and “Is this from God, to let me know I have issues I need to deal with?” Finding the answers to these questions and others like them only comes through time spent on our knees. Asking the Holy Spirit to give us discernment in any situation is vital, especially when truth is on the line. 

I don’t know where you are when it comes to accepting yourself the way God made you, but I have never been satisfied with the way I am. (Hence, my second highest scoring personality trait, melancholy.) I have taken and studied many different personality tests. They all have the same
problem. They all reveal the same thing—my true self. You see, every personality includes strengths and weaknesses. Most of us like to focus on our strengths. We may be organized or a natural leader. We may be a peacemaker, the one who can get everyone excited about an event, or the one who can be trusted with details and follow through without supervision. And yet, sometimes the weakest parts of our personality shine brighter than the strengths. When they do, they don’t necessarily bring light or strength. When we become aware of the weaknesses associated with our personality type, or even worse, when someone else points them out to us, it can be overwhelming.

When that happens, what do we do? We have two options. We can become broken, bitter, and resentful. We can be angry with the one(s) who pointed out the weaknesses or failures. We may even yell at God, griping about the way He created us. (I confess…guilty as charged.) We can shake off the negative comments or even the comments spoken to wake us up, and determine to remain the same way we’ve always been. Or, the second option: we can go to God in prayer, seeking truth. We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what—if anything—needs to change, and then make the changes. I know from experience the first one is easier. Shaking our fists at God or placing blame on others is always the easiest solution. But is it right? Is it what God wants for us?

Believe me, being molded is painful! But being moldable is essential to growth. When a potter takes a lump of clay, if the clay has dried out and become hard, it cannot be shaped. I’m no potter, but I have worked with Play-Doh™ enough to know it is nearly impossible to work with it after it’s been left on the table to dry. Try forming that crumbled-up mess into something; it’s a waste of time and energy. I can’t help but wonder if that’s how God feels when we become hardened in our weaknesses rather than letting Him turn those weaknesses into strengths. 

God created us as His workmanship, a masterpiece or poem, something usable for good and His glory (Ephesians 2:10). God knew what He was doing from the beginning. He decided how we would be shaped, and He intended our unique personalities to show others His likeness (Romans 8:29). So, if your life isn’t displaying the true heart of God for the world to see (or at least your part of the world), what needs to be done?

I think we choose option two: go to the Creator. Ask Him to reveal what—if anything—needs to be different. Are you losing your temper with coworkers? Are you constantly late and causing others to wait? Are you demanding your way and refusing to listen to others? Are you procrastinating and not getting the job done? Are you so set in your ways you’re no longer flexible with anyone or anything? Seek the truth. Go beyond what others have said and your own feelings. (Remember, we can be harder on ourselves than God desires; don’t be your own worst enemy.) Find Scriptures to aid you along this journey to spiritual health. Commit those passages to memory or post them on your wall. 

Have the fiery darts of criticism left you deeply wounded? Give what others say about you to the Lord and let Him deal with their hearts. If you are really broken by their words, understand healing may take time. Forgive them. Ask God to help you love them. Be moldable, flexible, and pursue Christlikeness. Take the proper steps to be the best version of yourself with God’s help. 

God didn’t create us to fail, nor to barely survive; He created us to thrive! He looked at you and me when we were in our mother’s womb and handpicked a personality, emotions, abilities, and passions especially for us. Our task is to use those gifts to make this world a better place and point others to Christ. 

In recent days, a painful dart found its way deep into my soul. It felt like a body blow, an 18-wheeler plowing through my heart, as words from a friend caused me great pain. I have done a lot of soul-searching and truth-seeking. I have wept, crying out to God to show me what I need to do and be. This is what it takes, friends. The process can be raw and ugly—downright heart-wrenching—but I know the pain will be worth it. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the best version of me I can possibly be!

About the Writer: Becky (Fry) Gwartney loves being a pastor’s wife (married to Curt, Pastor of Fellowship FWB Church, Park Hills, Missouri). She is a homemaker, researcher, writer, and mother of two adult children—son Darin, a physician in Pryor, Oklahoma; and daughter Casey, a youth pastor’s wife in Nashville, Tennessee. Grammy to six “perfect” grandsons, Becky loves to write, decorate, organize, bake, teach, lead Bible studies, sing, play games, and spend time with her husband.

WNAC Accepting Applications

“As you probably already know, Mrs. Elizabeth Hodges has announced her resignation as the WNAC Executive Director.

The Search Committee is accepting applications for a replacement.  We are asking you, as State Promotional Directors, to let the ladies in your state know of this opening.  If there is a woman who is interested in applying for this position, all information, including the application and required attachments, can be found on our website at wnac.org.  We are accepting applications until May 15, 2021.

We request that you announce this opportunity at your state association meetings or other gatherings of Free Will Baptists.

It is the Search Committee’s desire that all FWB women who are involved in WNAC are made aware of this position opening.

Thank you for your faithful dedication to your state and to Free Will Baptists.”

WNAC Search Committee

Lee Ann Wilfong (MO), Chairman

Pam Hackett (SC)

Jonda Patton (KY)

Sarah Sargent (OH)

Tracy Payne (OK)

Khristi Shores (OK)

Jessica Edwards (TN)

Katie Postlewaite (SC)

Wokeness, Cancel Culture, and Christianity Redefined

This is an interesting time to live, to say the least. It’s become “normal” (I think that word even has new meanings now) to hear phrases like, “this is unprecedented” and “I’ve never lived through anything like this before.” Now, my teenage daughter schools me (seems like daily) on words or phrases I don’t know. I always come back with (I always said I would never be this old person!), “Well believe it or not, when I was your age, we had slang terms and made up words that we used too. Now let me go and watch Matlock and make my dinner before 5:00 rolls around.” Ha!

Ok, so we’ve established that there are new words, or new ways to use words, and slang. But nothing is new there. That’s always been and will always probably be. What worries me and what I am mostly concerned with is how much it is becoming normal to cancel anyone out that has any type of truth claim, or something that may not be agreeable. If you don’t like it, then just get rid of it. If it doesn’t make you feel good, then it’s wrong. But don’t call anyone wrong, because there is no wrong…unless they disagree with that last statement…or anything I espouse to. 

Can you feel it? Can you sense and maybe even physically see the onslaught coming from all directions? What I mean is that there have always been attacks coming at us. More specifically, there have always been evil and immoral ideologies, teachings, and philosophies of living. And there have always been people pushing them. However, now it seems as if all bets are off and the filters have been thrown to the side. Everything is being pushed now. You are wrong if you say someone is wrong. You are wrong if you only describe someone as a male or female. You are also wrong if you say they are one, when they identify as another one. You are even wrong if you call a person a human, when they don’t want to be human. You’re also wrong if you hold a different opinion, or don’t affirm everything and everyone (transexuals, transgenders, pansexuals, and pedophiles isn’t far from full acceptance). My daughter even read the other day where people are now identifying as transabled (choosing to be disabled, or merely identifying as disabled). 

That’s just part of it. It is becoming obvious that we are just wrong if we follow the teachings of the Bible. We still have privileges now and can worship and follow the Bible. I’m not going to overreact and claim extreme persecution when it’s not fully there, yet. However, it seems to be trending that direction. More than likely, what we’ll experience first is a push for the church to be more accepting of immoral lifestyles and in general, downplay sin and don’t call it out. If we do that, then society outside the church will be ok, because it’s not any different. But that’s nothing new. You can see that in the Bible.

Our question that we must answer is, are we ready to follow Jesus no matter the cost? The old hymn lyrics come to mind. “I have decided to follow Jesus…No turning back. No turning back.” 

What is the cost?

Jesus said in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Using hyperbole and strong words, Jesus says that following Him means that He is number one. Not pretty high. He’s not a close second, or even tied with our parents, siblings, or spouse. He’s first. Often I hear how people have softened the meaning of the phrase “carry my cross” to basically mean “something I gotta do that I don’t really want to.” I’ve even said it in humorous ways. “Kyle I can’t believe you let your daughter and that little girl paint your fingernails.” “Oh I know. I guess this is just the cross I bear as a dad.” First off, don’t judge that I let them do that…once.  To a person in the first-century, the cross meant one thing and one thing only: death by the most painful and humiliating means human beings could develop. Simply put, if you say you are willing to follow Jesus, are you willing to die for Him? Are you willing to give up everything and be His disciple? It is an absolute surrender to Him and Him alone. Practically, how should that look in our lives?

Do what Jesus says to do

When Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him, He is speaking authoritatively. It’s not an option. He is not a way, He is the way (Jn. 14:6). So in our daily living, we abandon everything else that comes in opposition to His place and will.

Go where Jesus tells you to go

The great commission comes to mind here. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He also said to Peter and John, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matt. 4:19). So where do we go? Everywhere we possibly can, have the opportunity to go, and wherever He may specifically say. And so if we couple this command with the last (Do what Jesus says to do), then we see clearly that we are to go everywhere and make disciples. 

Say what Jesus tells you to say

This might be more specifically related to the cancel culture that we are presently dealing with. Jesus said that people would hate us, simply because we’re with Him and follow Him (Jn. 15:18-19). He told them and us beforehand. So in essence, this present cancel culture shouldn’t be something that completely catches us off guard. We know that people are against Jesus. That’s to be expected. So now we know and we should be prepared. How do we prepare? We settle it in our mind that no matter what I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. Church, let’s settle it in our minds now. We have counted the cost. We choose to die to our old selves and live for Jesus alone. Although the world may be against Jesus we will follow Him. Although no one may go with us as we strive to live all in for Him. Still we will make a beeline for Him alone. And even though we feel as if we’re the only ones living righteously (think Elijah and the loneliness he felt), nothing can derail us from the single path that leads to the King of Kings.