July Newsletter

True Freedom

It’s not a stretch to say that you, as a twenty-first-century American, can do pretty much whatever you want to. You are free to do as you please! We have come to the point when we have reached the logical conclusion of the Declaration of Independence from 243 years ago: We are endowed with certain unalienable rights—among them being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And from 1776 onward—and quickening after World War II—we have placed the freedom of the individual as the greatest possible good in our society. And since the 1990s or so, hyper-individualism has become the unofficial religion of America; individual freedom is more important than anything else.

It’s true. For decades, our common cultural project, whether you like it or not, has been to remove all taboos and barriers that stand in the way of personal fulfillment. It stands to reason: if I am a free individual with certain rights, then it follows that nothing should stop me from fulfilling my desires. The most misused Bible verse over the last 20+ years has been Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Taken to mean in our secular religion, that judging someone else’s choices—even if you are trying to be helpful and loving—is the worst sin ever.

So, you’re free! You can eat as much as you want, drink as much as you want, have as much casual, consequence-free sex as you want, or smoke as much as you want (either the “Marlboro” meaning or the “Colorado” meaning of smoking). You can stay married or not, depending on your level of personal satisfaction. You are free to spend as much money as you like or go into debt if you prefer. You can exploit others and work the system to make yourself wealthier at the expense of everyone else, if you are able to pull it off. Because freedom. No judgment at all. And you can definitely do whatever you like with your body because YOLO, right?

But is that really “freedom”? I look at people who have pursued this ideal, and frankly, they don’t look like they have been very successful at pursuing life and happiness. In fact, lots of the people I see who have pursued this hyper-individualistic freedom have been chewed up and spit out by an uncaring system and an unloving god. They have ended up bruised, battered, rich-but-empty, addicted, diseased, overweight, unhealthy, suicidal, anxious, and depressed. But definitely NOT free.

Because that’s not what freedom is. Those things are a misuse of true freedom. Freedom is not the right to do whatever you please without consequences, but freedom is the capacity to choose to do what is right and good. Given a set of choices, we should always do what is best for all, what has the best outcome for ourselves and those around us, rather than just what makes us happy in the moment.

The apostle Paul cautioned about unfettered libertinism: because it paradoxically leads back to slavery. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) He was cautioning his listeners against the legalism that was being preached by his opponents. Now, today we are in no danger of engaging in legalism, period. Zero chance. But Paul’s warning about submitting to a yoke of slavery is very real. This time, the temptation is to become enslaved to sin and to the flesh. Paul goes on to say, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh…I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:13, 16)

True freedom, you see, is found not in gratifying our own, short-sighted desires, but in following Jesus. Jesus promised solemnly, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) Which includes all of us to one degree or another. But those who persist in pursuing their own version of freedom will only remain in chains; they will never discover true freedom in Christ. But for those who hold to his teaching, they are truly his disciples. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

So, as we reflect on the promises of the Declaration of Independence this July, let us resolve to pursue freedom. But not just any version of freedom; let us pursue true freedom—freedom in Christ, freedom from sin and our appetites, freedom to choose to love God and to love others.

Happy Independence Day!

Pastor Ray

One Great Hour of Sharing: More Than We Can Imagine

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering! Your gifts make an eternal difference.

Thank You from the Mahers

“To all our friends at FBC: Thank you so much for all your prayers, concern, and donations for Brad and his family. They are awaiting drier weather to begin rebuilding. Duane and Mary Maher.”

Sunday School

Join us for Sunday school every Sunday morning at 9:30, even through the summer months! There is no shortage of fellowship and coffee!

A Creative Way to Support Your Church

If you have an IRA and you’re 70.5 years old, then you probably already know about Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). If you’re not familiar with an RMD, it goes like this: At age 70.5 (for most retirement accounts), you must start withdrawing a minimum amount of money from your account—and that withdrawal is taxed as income. However: you can transfer that RMD directly to a qualifying charity (e.g., OUR CHURCH) and avoid all taxes. In fact, you can give up to $100,000 from your IRA to the church each year! So it’s a win-win situation. Talk to your financial planner about how you can do this. For more useful information, visit:

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T045-C001-S003-faqs-about-giving-your-rmd-to-charity.html

Quarterly Congregational Meeting and Potluck

We will conduct our quarterly congregational meeting after worship on Sunday, July 14. We will also share in a potluck meal immediately after worship.

American Baptist Women

ABWM will gather on Wednesday, July 17, at 1:30 p.m.

Updated Church Directory

We are updating our church directory! If you have a change in address or phone number (or if you would like to provide your email address), please let Pastor Ray know. Call, text, or email him with your new information.

Read Online: Save the Paper and Postage!

Read our newsletter online!

https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com/blog. You can also sign up to receive each newsletter (blog) as an email message. Just enter your email address, then confirm your subscription, and you’re all set!

Diaconate Minutes

The Diaconate meeting of First Baptist Church was held on Sunday June 9, 2019. The meeting was called to order with an opening prayer by Pastor Ray McCalla.

Minutes of the May diaconate meeting were read and approved.

Reports are on file from Vicki Brown, Financial secretary; Luella Bartelson, Benevolence Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer.

Jerry and Kyle have been working on the northeast block wall in the basement of the parsonage a chunk of block wall was loose, it was removed and a new part block in. The sump is working well. WCI from Carroll did a very good job. Lana Westphalen will be looking over the parsonage again to give an estimate on a selling price.

We held a discussion on what to do with the furnishings in the parsonage. Nancy Wheeler left a list of what she paid for items that she left in the parsonage so unless a better idea is brought up we will make sheets showing a minimum bid on items then like a silent auction people can bid on items. The stackable washer/dryer, range and refrigerator will stay with the house.

Vicki Brown made a motion to give $750.00 to the Atlantic High School band to help the *** children go on the band trip in 2020. Kyle seconded the motion. Vote was taken and motion passed.

It was asked if the church could make a donation for the children going on the band trip at a later time. Yes, we can make a donation from the church and individuals can make donations as they want.

The Community Promotion commission granted $1,000.00 to the Cass County Choral Society. The check was made out to First Baptist Church, so Lyle Brown made a motion to give $1,000.00 to the Cass County Choral Society. Seconded by Luella Bartelson. Vote was taken and motion passed.

Ray gave a short report.

Meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Vicki Brown

Church Clerk

The mission of First Baptist Church is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ, loving people into a life-changing relationship with Him and providing a lifetime of spiritual growth through worship, education, fellowship, and service.

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