December 2018 Witness

Christmas is about the fact that God came into our world to love us, to teach us, and ultimately to die for us. Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often, he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler.
One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate.  He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, “I am your king!”  The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!”

The King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave himself to you and me. The Bible calls Him, “God’s Indescribable Gift!”  The word “indescribable” there means that there is no language on earth that is adequate to fully appreciate what Jesus did for us!   We had a good month in November with an average attendance of 375 in Bible Study.   Operation Christmas Child did another excellent job this year as we collected 971 shoeboxes as a church, and, as a collection center, we received a total of 4,165 shoeboxes this year.  Thanks to Nancy Cloudt and all who helped make this a record-breaking year!   Other November events were the Community Thanksgiving and Illumination services that we participated in downtown.  We also have been working with our 2019 Proposed Church Budget and expect our church to pass that budget on December 2nd.   We are in the initial stages of our STUDENT/YOUNG ADULT BUILDING CAMPAIGN. Mark Brooks, our consultant with the company called Generis, is working closely with Kim Wall (Fund-raising Team Captain), Steven Bacon (Building Leadership Team Chairman) and myself. The campaign will really get into full swing beginning early winter, 2019.   We experienced a disappointment this past Sunday as our candidate for our CHILDREN’S MINISTER position decided to decline our offer.  Still, we believe that God is sovereign, and that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him,” so our Personnel Team is committed to seeing this search through and finding the person God has for us!   December has, among other things, some great opportunities:

  • Our LOTTIE MOON CHRISTMAS OFFERING FOR INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS GOAL this year is $27,000. Our guest speakers for December 2nd will be Tim and Charlotte Cearley, former IMB missionaries in Africa.
  • THE SUNDAY SCHOOL STAFF CHRISTMAS BANQUET takes place on Friday, December 7th, at 6:30 P.M.
  • Our Christmas musical, WONDERFUL LOVE, takes place on Saturday and Sunday, December 15th and 16th, at 6:30 each evening.
  • Instead of our having our Lord’s Supper on Christmas Eve this year, we will have a very special CHRISTMAS FAMILY LORD’S SUPPER on Sunday morning, December 23rd.
     We look forward to a great month in December. From Suzanne and I, as well as the entire staff of First Baptist Church in Barnesville, we hope you have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!


November 2018 Witness

A sculptor had ruined a huge piece of beautiful Carrara marble. It was left in the courtyard of the cathedral in Florence, Italy, for almost a hundred years. Artisans thought it was beyond repair, but in 1505, a young sculptor by the name of Michelangelo was asked if he thought anything could be done with “The Giant” as it had come to be called. Michelangelo measured the block and carefully noted the imperfections caused by the bungling workman of an earlier day. To his mind came the image of the young shepherd boy David. So he carefully made a sketch of that biblical character as he envisioned him.   For 3 years he worked steadily, his chisel skillfully shaping the marble. Finally, when one of his students was allowed to view the towering figure, 18 feet high and weighing 9 tons, he exclaimed, “Master, it lacks only one thing, and that is speech!” Michelangelo salvaged that gigantic, beautiful piece of Carrara marble. The word “salvation” means “to salvage.” To salvage something is to rescue what was intended for the garbage heap. God salvaged us when He saved us through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  God rescued us and has made something worthwhile and beautiful out of our lives. We had a good month in October with an average attendance of 336 in Bible Study.   The kick-off for Operation Christmas Child went well on Sunday evening, October 14th. The Canopy took place on October 25th.  God is blessing this growing women’s worship event. Thanks to the Children’s Ministry Team members who worked so hard to put together “Trunk or Treat” on October 28th. On Sunday, September 30th, our church voted without opposition to build our STUDENT/YOUNG ADULT BUILDING. We have hired Mark Brooks, a consultant from a company called Generis, to help Kim Wall and our Fund-raising Team as we prepare for our campaign beginning early winter, 2019. A special thanks to Chairperson Steven Bacon and our Student Building Leadership Team for all of their hard work throughout this special project. Our Personnel Team has also made good progress in our search for a CHILDREN’S MINISTER.  We have narrowed down our search to two fine candidates and will be bringing one of them before our Children’s Ministry Team, our Deacons and ultimately our entire church family soon. November has, among other things, some great evening opportunities:

  • OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD Shoebox Collection Week is October 11th through the 19th. Thanks to Nancy Cloudt for leading this ministry of providing the greatest gift of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to children all around the world!
  • The Schedule for our 2019 BUDGET PRESENTATION AND APPROVAL will be: Budget Presentation to Deacons at 7:30 on November 11th. Budget Discussion with Congregation at 6:30 on Sunday, November 25th. Budget Vote without Discussion at all three morning services on Sunday, December 2nd.
  • Our COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING SERVICE takes place on Wednesday evening, November 21st at 6:30 at Barnesville First United Methodist Church.
We look forward to a great month in November. COME EXPECTANTLY! I Love You, Garth


October 2018 Witness

This past Sunday was our annual Homecoming Sunday celebrated on Buggy Days weekend.    On such Sundays, I always enjoy sharing a message that focuses on the good things that God has done in and through our church over the last 193 years! I have the privilege of serving as the 34thpastorof First Baptist Church of Barnesville.  And this church has accomplished an amazing record among Baptist churches. After 34 pastors, this church has never fired a preacher!  Well, at least not yet! In any and every generation, the church is in the life-changing business. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When I was a freshman at Banks High School in Birmingham, Alabama, I remember having a substitute teacher on several occasions who was going to seminary in the evenings and wanted to be a minister.  I was so impressed with his character and his caring – with the joy and purpose that he had in his life that I thought that if I pursued the same vocation he was pursuing I would become like him. That young man so impacted my life that I wanted to become a minister before I even became a Christian!  All of my tomorrows were transformed by a Christ-filled substitute high school teacher whose name I can’t even remember! We had a good month in September with an average attendance of 373 in Bible Study.  “Speakin’ with My Deacon” took place on Sunday evening, September 9th, with a good attendance from our Sunday School classes and divisions.  We also focused on three TOWNHALL MEETINGSconcerning the STUDENT/YOUNG ADULT BUILDINGthat has been in the works for months now.  ChairmanSteven Bacon and our STUDENT BUILDING PLANNING TEAM made very strong presentations to our church at those meetings.   Our Deacons unanimously supported the plan for this new building at their September 9th meeting. I want to thank our Student Building PlanningTeam for the many hours they have put in.   A special thanks goes to ourPrayer Team led byJoe Andrews.  Carson Selph and his Design and Planning Teamhave worked tirelessly on a design for this new building. In addition, Chairperson Kim Walland our Fund-raising Teamhave selected a company to help us raise the needed funds. The work of Mark Smithand our Finance Team,as well as Ryal Siemand our Construction Team will soon begin provided the church adopts this new building plan. On Sunday, September 30th,we will share a CONGREGATIONAL PRESENTATION AND VOTE on this new building plan at all three of our morning services. Please be much in prayer for this most important day for us and for our future! October has, among other things, some great evening opportunities:

  • The women’s worship event calledTHE CANOPY takes place on Thursday evening, October 25th, at 7:00 P.M.Doors open at 6:30.
  • The kick-off of OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILDwill be on Sunday evening, October 14th, at 6:30 in the gym of our C.F.L.C. Thanks to Nancy Cloudt for leading this ministry of providing the greatest gift of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to children all around the world!
  • TRUNK OR TREATtakes place on Sunday evening, October 28th, on our west side parking lot. Thanks to our Children’s Ministry Team for putting this together for us this year!

We look forward to a great month in October.   COME EXPECTANTLY! I Love You, Garth


September 2018 Witness


     In speaking of the need for patience amidst persecution or troubles as we serve God, the author of the Book of Hebrews writes in chapter 10, verses 35-37these words: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.   You need persevering patience so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.    For, ‘In just a little while, He that shall come will come and will not delay.’”

     Some of the greatest missionaries of history devotedly spread the Gospel of Christ and yet had to wait long periods before seeing the fruit of their efforts.   William Carey,for example, labored 7 years before the first Hindu convert was brought to Christ in India, and Adoniram Judson toiled 7 years before his faithful preaching was rewarded in Burma.   In western Africa,it was 14 years before one convert was received into the Christian church.   In New Zealand,it took 9 years; and in Tahiti,it was 16 years before the first harvest of souls began.

      So, in the midst of a good work, remember the words of Paul from Galatians 6:9which says, “And let us not grow weary in doing what is right: for in due season we shall reap an abundant harvest, if we don’t lose heart and quit!”

     We had a good month in August with an average attendance of 356 in Bible Study.  Thanks to all those who participated in our annual PRAYER WALK FOR SCHOOLSon August 5th.   MISSION FESTwas a great event on August 12thas we heard from those who served the Lord in Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Honduras and the Philippines.    On our TEAM NIGHTwe gave our committees a first opportunity to meet together in the new year.    And the women’s worship event called THE CANOPYbrought lots of ladies from our community together for this quarterly event.

     ChairmanSteven Bacon and our STUDENT BUILDING PLANNING TEAM look forward to making a presentation to our church soon.   Carson Selph and his Design and Planning Team, have worked tirelessly on a design for this new building.   In addition, Chairperson Kim Walland our Fund-raising Teamhave selected a company to help us raise the needed funds.   We will be making an initial presentation to our Deacons at their first Deacon’s Meeting of the new year, on September 9th.  Following that, we will be bringing a presentation to our entire church family in the days ahead.   Please continue to pray for the vital work of all our important teams (i.e.; Joe Andrewsand our Prayer Team; Mark Smithand our Finance Team;and Ryal Siemand our Construction Team).

     July has, among other things, some great evening opportunities:


  • SPEAKIN’ WITH MY DEACONtakes place on Sunday evening, September 9th, beginning at 6:30 P.M. in our Christian Family Life Center.We’re asking our Deacons to supply finger foods while we supply the tea.   Afterwards, we will have our first Deacon Meeting of the new year.
  • We are also looking forward to our BUGGY DAYS HOMECOMING on Sunday, September 23rd. Notice that Buggy Days is a little later this year than usual.   We look forward to our annual lunch together that day, and to honoring folks who have served First Baptist so well.
     We look forward to a great month in September.   COME EXPECTANTLY! I Love You, Garth





August 2018 Witness

    Jesus said in John 15:5:“I am the Vine, and you are the branches; He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth MUCH FRUIT: for apart from Me you can do nothing.”      

    In 1886, a well-known baseball player was converted to Christ.  And when that ball-player was baptized and joined the church, an older Christian put his arm around his shoulder and said,“Billy, there are three simple rules that I can give you, and if you hold to them I can promise you that you will never be a ‘back-slider.’    Take 15 minutes each day to listen to God talking to you through His Word; take 15 minutes each day to talk to God through prayer; and take 15 minutes each day to talk to others about God.”

    The young ball player was deeply impressed and determined to make those the three rules of his life. For the first 30 minutes of each day, he allowed nothing to interrupt his time with God.  The young ball-player’s name was Billy Sunday,and by the time he died in 1935, he had led 300,000 people to Jesus!   What a fruitful life Billy Sunday lived! Jesus promised that all of us can live fruitful lives if we will abide in Him!

     We had a good month in July with an average attendance of 343 in Bible Study.  As I write, we are in the middle of VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL that will run through July 26th.     Thanks to Russ Jenkinsand all who have volunteered to help him put together a great VBS this year! In addition, I want to thank Jason and Honey Tealfor leading our children to CENTRIKID CAMPat Gardener Webb College July 9ththrough the 13th.  Both Russ and the Teals went above and beyond the call of duty in taking on assignments normally performed by our children’s minister. Greg Burrell’sannual DINNER THEATERtakes place at the end of VBS, on the evenings of July 27th-28th

     We are also excited about the progress that ChairmanSteven Bacon and our STUDENT BUILDING PLANNING TEAM are making. Carson Selph,Chairperson of the Design and Planning Team is working with his team to finalize the design of our new student facility.  In addition, Chairperson Kim Walland our Fundraising Team heard three presentations from potential fund-raising companies during the week before VBS.  Please continue to pray for the vital work of these important teams.

     July has, among other things, some great evening opportunities:

  • PRAYER WALK FOR SCHOOLStakes place on Sunday evening, August 5th, beginning at 6:00 P.M. at the Lamar County Schools Fine Arts Center.We’ll begin with some refreshments and then progress to praying for our schools.
  • MISSION FEST will take place on Sunday evening, August 12th, beginning at 6:30 in our C.F.L.C. We’ll hear exciting stories from those involved in Summer missions from our church as well as enjoy a western meal.
  • TEAM NIGHT, a chance for our church teams (committees) to get together and plan for what they want to accomplish in the coming year, will take place on Sunday evening August 19th, beginning at 6:30 in our C.F.L.C.
  • THE CANOPY, a worship event for women in our church and community, will be held in our C.F.L.C. on Thursday evening, August 23rdbeginning at 7:00 P.M.


     We look forward to a great month in August.   COME EXPECTANTLY!                                                                                                                  

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July 2018 Witness

       In John 10:27-29, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” 

      Tornadoes are phenomenal storms of great power that form when areas of very low pressure encounter high humidity and high winds. As geologists do with earthquakes, meteorologists rate the intensity of tornadoes, too. The scale that meteorologists use to classify tornadoes goes from one to five.  An F 5 tornado, the strongest of tornadoes, has winds over 260 miles per hour.    

      In the 1996 movie Twister, which is about a group of meteorologists who chased tornadoes in order to study them, someone asked one of the meteorologists what an F 5 Tornado was like. He replied that this all-powerful tornado was “the finger of God.” 

       But tornadoes are destructive powers that leave disaster in their wakes, while God’s power is constructive and leaves blessing behind.    Jesus said here in John chapter 10 that for all eternity believers are guarded by the fingers of Jesus in the palm of God’s hand.  If I was Jesus, I would have used a good Old Testament metaphor and said that believers are guarded by the “strong right arm of God!”  But Jesus said that all it takes is His little finger to guard us for all eternity!

     We had a good month in June with an average attendance of 324 in Bible Study.  We celebrated FATHER’S DAY and celebrated the birth of Olivia Josephine Bernard, the daughter of Trey and Amanda.  Jason Teal and crew worked hard to make the EQUIP MISISONS CAMP an exciting time here on our campus.   Equip Missions is an association-wide event for our students to do missions locally as well as consider God’s call to missions for their lives.    

     And thanks to our Children’s Ministry Team for helping us put together a great Wednesday night summer activity for our children, grades 1-5.   It’s called “OVERCOMING THE FEAR FACTOR” and will run through August 1st, from 6:30 to 7:30pm. The Bible study follows the Gospel of Mark, while they also have some fun activities that work off of the biblical theme. And of course, there’s always something good to eat!  You can find more information about it in this edition of The Witness.  

     Congratulations to Michael Richardson for celebrating 17 years of sobriety!  We appreciate Michael and the way he walks every day as a genuine believer in Jesus Christ.

     We are also excited about the progress that Chairman Steven Bacon and our STUDENT BUILDING PLANNING TEAM are making. Carson Selph, Chairperson of the Design and Planning Team, reports that they have engaged the services of local architect Todd Albritton, who designed the new campus for Antioch Baptist Church in our association.  Carson’s team will soon be narrowing down their decision on the best design option for us and our future. Please continue to pray for this vital team’s work.


June 2018 Witness

May and June are months when we typically celebrate our families and consider our responsibilities to them.  1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his own relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Marion Anderson, the famous African-American contralto, was once interviewed and asked to name the greatest moment of her life. She had many big moments to choose from.  
There was that private concert she gave at the White House for the Roosevelts and the King and Queen of England.  There was the time that she won the $10,000 Bok Award as the person who had done the most for her hometown of Philadelphia. “But,” she told the reporter, “the greatest moment in my life was the day I went home and told my mother that she would not have to take in washing anymore!” There was a young woman who took seriously her family responsibilities! May we all “go and do likewise!”
We had a good month in May with an average attendance of 322 in Bible Study.   May was a month filled with family activities. We celebrated NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER for our community in our gym on May 3rd with the best crowd we have had in years.   We had six children that we celebrated during our BABY CELEBRATION on Mother’s Day.   The worship gathering for women called THE CANOPY was inspirational on the evening of May 17th.  Jason Teal and crew did a great job with the GRADUATION SUNDAY service and luncheon on May 20th. That evening, Greg Burrell and our children’s music ministry presented “O CHICKEN OF LITTLE FAITH,” our end-of-year musical, which was a delight to all who attended.   And we appreciated the opportunity to participate in the LAMAR COUNTY BACCALAUREATE SERVICE on May 23rd.  
Sadly, we said goodbye to Kristi Miller, our Children’s Minister, as her resignation was announced on May 20th.  We appreciate Kristi’s service to our church and our community over the last five and a-half years.   She will be pursuing other opportunities closer to her family. Our prayers will go with her.
We voted on our NOMINATING TEAM REPORT on May 27th. Thanks to Russ Jenkins, Chairperson Pat Burnette and our 2018-19 Nominating Team for working hard to staff our multiplied ministries here at First Baptist. On behalf of Chairman Steven Bacon and our Student Ministry Leadership Team, I will be recommending for church approval almost 40 members of  our STUDENT BUILDING PLANNING TEAM at our Regular Church Conference on May 30th. Please keep them in your prayers.


Jun 2018 Witness