May 2022 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: Don’t Waste Your Life!

Christian author and pastor John Piper tells the story of his father, who was a preacher and an evangelist:

“He had stories, so many stories, for each age group—stories of glorious conversions, and stories of horrific refusals to believe followed by tragic deaths. Seldom could those stories come without tears. For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of a man converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face…‘I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!’” The old man, while joyful in Christ, came to the crushing realization that he had spent nearly his whole long life on inferior pursuits.

Piper also remembers a particular plaque that hung over their family’s kitchen sink for his entire childhood. “It was a simple piece of glass painted black on the back with a gray link chain snug around it for a border and for hanging. On the front, in old English script, painted in white, were the words: ‘Only one life / ‘Twill soon be past; / Only what’s done / for Christ will last.’ To the left, beside these words, was a painted green hill with two trees and a brown path that disappeared over the hill. How many times, as a little boy, and then as a teenager with pimples and longings and anxieties, I looked at that brown path (my life) and wondered what would be over that hill. The message was clear. You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.”

The point of John Piper’s exhortation is so simple, that it’s the title of his book: “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Which should hit each of us squarely in the solar plexus and knock the breath out of our lungs. What are you living for? What is your highest priority? What are you accomplishing in life? Sadly, for many people, especially young people, their minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years are spent scrolling through the infinite inanity of social media. We mindlessly imbibe worldly entertainment, and our souls are anesthetized to the urgency to do something significant with our one, precious life. We spend our passing moments fussing over inferior things like other people’s business, how our lawns look, or the mysterious dings on our car’s fenders.

But we were made for more. We were made for glory. We were made for eternal life that begins now in Christ. Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10b CSB). Sometimes this verse is misapplied to mean that Jesus came to give us the “good life” of material comfort and temporal ease. But it’s much more radical than that. Jesus has come to fill us with his unending life—abundant, bounteous, joyful life that stretches into eternity.

So, what will you do with your one, exquisite life? What will you do with your minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years? “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 CSB). And don’t waste your life!

Pastor Ray

Excerpts from Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. 2018. Crossway. Pages 11-13.

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

LC Clinic Update

The Atlantic LC Clinic continues to make progress toward opening this year. Future staff and volunteers are already training in other LC sites. There will be a fundraising banquet on Thursday, April 21, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Cass County Community Center. To register, visit: http://www.iowalcclinic.org/events.html

Diaconate

Our deacons will gather together for a brief meeting after worship on Sunday, May 8.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:28-29 CSB Happy Mother’s Day to our mothers—the spiritual mothers and the biological mothers alike. May the Lord bless you richly!

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, May 11. This is the second Wednesday of the month, rather than the usual third Wednesday. Everyone is invited to have lunch at Sweet Joy Shoppe at 11:30. The meeting will be at the church building at 1:30 p.m.

Pioneer Bible Translators

The Smiths are open to receiving care packages from their supporters here in the United States. For more information on this—and more—find them on Facebook, “Smith Family Translates.”

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on May 1. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

Ray’s Doctor of Ministry Program

Ray will be out of town for his doctor of ministry seminar through Pittsburgh Theological Seminary May 8-20. If you have pastoral concerns, you may contact Rachelle McCalla at (712) 250-1409.

Thank You from Amy Frields’ Family

Thank you! All of your prayers, cards, and good thoughts are appreciated.

Duane & Mary Maher, Amy Frields’ Family

Online Devotionals and Apps

If you’re looking for a portable, electronic devotional, there are lots of great options that will draw you more deeply into relationship with Jesus:

  • The Upper Room (app and site; Methodist oriented)
  • Daily Prayer (app and site; Church of England)
  • Our Daily Bread (app and site; evangelical)
  • Open Doors (app and site; pray for persecuted Christians)
  • Guideposts (online; general)
  • Morning and Evening (app and site; Baptist)

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube.

Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

April 2022 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: But Wait, There’s More!

Jesus lives, and so shall I: Death, thy sting is gone forever! / He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my hope and trust.”

I don’t usually begin with a hymn quotation—this one by the German composer Christian Gellert from 1757—but he definitely sums up the hope of our resurrection in just a couple of lines.

But let me back up a second. At Easter time, I think we have a vague understanding of why Jesus rose from the dead. We tend to focus heavily on the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins—which is great. For sure, Jesus died for our sins according to Scripture (1 Corinthians 15:3), and we are reconciled to God through his blood shed on the cross (Colossians 1:20). But Jesus’ resurrection is not just getting the last laugh on death or even merely a vindication of Jesus’ sinless life (1 Timothy 3:16). But Jesus’ resurrection is his victory over death and the powers of evil in the world. In Jesus’ resurrection, God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him” (Colossians 2:15). Furthermore, by rising from the dead, Jesus has become Lord of all, and he has assumed all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He has also been “given dominion and glory and a kingdom, so that those of every people, nation, and language should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14).

And this is good news! We confess that the One who was crucified for our sins has triumphed over death and has become Lord over all creation. But, as the infomercial pitch men say, there’s more!

The promise of the gospel is not just that Jesus lives again. But the promise is that by trusting in him, we also will live again, even though we will die (see John 11:25-26). Jesus said it plainly to his disciples: “Because I live, you will live too” (John 14:19b). If we are faithful to him, his victory over death will become our victory when he returns. And we will join him on his throne when he finally and visibly becomes Lord of all (see Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:27, 3:5, 3:12, and especially 3:21).

When Jesus was teaching about his glorious appearing in the future, he clearly laid out his program: “Truly I tell you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:25, 28-29).

Jesus has become a firstfruits of the resurrection: he is the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18), and all will join him in rising from the dead when he returns. Death came into the world through Adam, but the resurrection of the dead will come through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:21). “We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

This is the tremendous good news of Easter: Jesus lives, and because he lives, we also will live. Or as Christian Gellert said in his hymn, “Jesus lives, and so shall I: Death, thy sting is gone forever! / He shall raise me from the dust: Jesus is my hope and trust.” May this good news fill us with joy and courage as we celebrate Easter this year.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

Holy Week Schedule

Follow Jesus into the Holy City, to the Upper Room, to the Cross, and to the Empty Tomb! Here is our Holy Week schedule:

  • Palm Sunday (4/10): 10:30 a.m.
  • Maundy Thursday (4/14): 6:00 at First United Presbyterian Church
  • Good Friday (4/15): 6:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church
  • Easter Sunday (4/17): 10:30 a.m.

Rocks: A Lenten Worship Series

Join our sisters and brothers in Christ in a rotating Lenten worship series! Learn what rocks have to do with following Christ. Each service is at 6:00 p.m.

  • March 30 First United Presbyterian Church; Ray McCalla presenting
  • April 6 Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church; Dean McPherson speaking

LC Clinic Update

The Atlantic LC Clinic continues to make progress toward opening this year. Future staff and volunteers are already training in other LC sites. There will be a fundraising banquet on Thursday, April 21, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Cass County Community Center. To register, visit: http://www.iowalcclinic.org/events.html

Quarterly Congregational Meeting and Potluck

We will have our quarterly congregational meeting and potluck lunch after worship on Sunday, April 10. Please bring something to share for lunch.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, April 20, at 1:30 p.m.

ABMW Gathering

The Iowa West ABWM Rally will be held at Ft. Dodge on April 29 with Eric Lembke, our new missionary, as our speaker.

Follow Paul’s Journeys

Ray is organizing a pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece this summer to trace the steps of the apostle Paul. June 16-26, 2022. Destinations include Istanbul, Pergamum, Ephesus, Smyrna, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Athens, and Corinth. The cost will be $4,551 plus taxes and fees. To see a detailed itinerary and to register (by May 1), please visit the Web site. And please share the word!

Pioneer Bible Translators

The Smiths are open to receiving care packages from their supporters here in the United States. For more information on this—and more—find them on Facebook, “Smith Family Translates.”

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on April 3. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

Online Devotionals and Apps

If you’re looking for a portable, electronic devotional, there are lots of great options that will draw you more deeply into relationship with Jesus:

  • The Upper Room (app and site; Methodist oriented)
  • Daily Prayer (app and site; Church of England)
  • Our Daily Bread (app and site; evangelical)
  • Open Doors (app and site; pray for persecuted Christians)
  • Guideposts (online; general)
  • Morning and Evening (app and site; Baptist)

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube.

Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

March 2022 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: Watch Your Diet!

A discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.” Proverbs 15:14 CSB

It is a common thing, in the larger Christian family, for believers to give up something for Lent, the forty-day period of preparation before Easter. Christians often limit their food intake: no meat, no sweets, no desserts, and so forth. And there is great value in fasting from food. It allows us to train our bodies and learn discipline, while at the same time relying on Jesus for our true spiritual sustenance. But maybe, while we’re watching our food intake, we should also watch what else we consume.

Social media and mass media are a veritable smorgasbord of information and entertainment—some of it good and lots of it not-so-good. And we Christians need to be careful that we are not feasting on foolishness, mindlessly imbibing the rubbish purveyed on Facebook and Twitter. And we need to be vigilant that we are not thoughtlessly feeding on the sensationalized and often hate-filled propaganda that flashes across our TV screens. It is effortless to waste lots of time online, on social media, or watching TV, and it is super-easy to plug into our favorite cable news programs and fan the flames of our righteous indignation.

But those things lead us predictably to a hate-filled and angry place. So, instead, brothers and sisters, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 CSB), and let the foolishness take a backseat. If you want a true fast this Lent, consider trimming back your time spent on social and mass media, and instead spend time with Jesus.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

Spring Forward!

Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 13. Make sure to “spring forward” one hour!

Ash Wednesday

First United Presbyterian Church is hosting an Ash Wednesday service to kick off the Lenten season. If you would like to participate, the service is March 2 at 6:00 p.m. at 616 Chestnut Street.

Rocks: A Lenten Worship Series

Join our sisters and brothers in Christ in a rotating Lenten worship series! Learn what rocks have to do with following Christ. Each service is at 6:00 p.m.

  • March 9 at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church; Dean McPherson speaking
  • March 16 at First Baptist Church; Rachelle McCalla speaking
  • March 23 First United Methodist Church; Lauri Boysen speaking
  • March 30 First United Presbyterian Church; Ray McCalla presenting
  • April 6 Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church; Dean McPherson speaking

LC Clinic Update

The Atlantic LC Clinic continues to make progress toward opening this year. Future staff and volunteers are already training in other LC sites. There will be a fundraising banquet on Thursday, April 21, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Cass County Community Center. To register, visit: http://www.iowalcclinic.org/events.html

Diaconate

Our deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, March 13.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, March 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Pioneer Bible Translators

Here is a brief update from the Smiths:

“The Smiths are now celebrating 6 months in North Africa. In this time, we have reached several important milestones. We’ve learned how to manage our lives in this very new environment, including setting up our home and hiring reliable guards. We are also finding effective rhythms for homeschooling, language learning, partnership communications, office work, additional training and as well as the increased demands for daily life we’ve found here. We have visited the northern country once so far this year, with plans to visit once per quarter. We have also made trips to the refugee camp and visited several refugee churches which communicate in our target language. This has helped us to increase our language ability and, most importantly, develop many relationships with nationals from the refugee community.

“After a short time of fundraising last year, we were able to purchase a vehicle. This is a huge blessing! We have also published the first-ever scripture in this language, the book of Ephesians. Much of our work lately has concentrated around distributing and supporting the use and impact of this new scripture in the language community. We also continue to focus heavily on language learning. We are grateful for your prayers and support.”

Find them on Facebook, “Smith Family Translates.”

Follow Paul’s Journeys

Ray is organizing a pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece this summer to trace the steps of the apostle Paul. June 16-26, 2022. Destinations include Istanbul, Pergamum, Ephesus, Smyrna, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Athens, and Corinth. The cost will be $4,551 plus taxes and fees. To see a detailed itinerary and to register (by May 1), please visit the Web site. And please share the word!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Pymosa Lodge is hosting a Masonic scholarship dinner at their lodge: 1010 SW 7th Street (former Villa Dance): Thursday, March 17, 5:00-7:30 p.m. Sit-down or drive-through. Menu: beef stew and Irish soda bread. Free-will donation.

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on March 6. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

America for Christ Offering

We will be receiving the AFC Offering on Sundays, March 20 and 27. The AFC supports domestic mission work sponsored by the American Baptist Churches. For more information, visit www.abhms.org/afc.

Online Devotionals and Apps

If you’re looking for a portable, electronic devotional, there are lots of great options that will draw you more deeply into relationship with Jesus:

  • The Upper Room (app and site; Methodist oriented)
  • Daily Prayer (app and site; Church of England)
  • Our Daily Bread (app and site; evangelical)
  • Open Doors (app and site; pray for persecuted Christians)
  • Guideposts (online; general)
  • Morning and Evening (app and site; Baptist)

Faith-Based Book Study at the Atlantic Public Library

Join the Rev. Dr. Rachelle McCalla for a weekly, chapter-by-chapter discussion of Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious, & Afraid by Kellye Fabian. Copies of the book are available at the upstairs desk at the library. Participants may bring their lunch to eat during the discussion. Starting Monday, February 28, at noon.

Jazz and Wine at IWCC

Iowa Western is hosting Jazz and Wine after taking a year off. Sunday, March 6, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Cass County Center. Wine, appetizers, and desserts. Tickets are $25 each and will support Cass County Center students only. https://www.iwcc.edu/cass/

Thank You!

Dear Friends,

I want to offer a deep thank-you for your generous Christmas gift. I am very blessed to share in life and ministry together in our church.

Blessings in Abundance,

Pastor Ray

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube.

Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

February 2022 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: The Rough Journey

Right after Christmas, we McCallas took off on a road trip for Texas. It had been a taxing fall semester for everyone, and the lure of temperatures in the 70s on the beaches of Padre Island was too much to ignore. So, we loaded up our van with snacks, movies, and sunblock and headed south.

And Corpus Christi did not disappoint. The weather was terrific: sunny-but-not-too-sunny, light breezes, and daytime temperatures in the upper 70s. My only complaint was that it was too humid for my liking. Sad, I know. Also in the bonus column, Corpus Christi and the beaches of Padre Island were not busy at all. It was a quiet, refreshing destination.

But the getting there was another story. It is approximately 1,100 miles from Atlantic to Corpus Christi, or about 17 hours of driving time. Wide open highways, busy urban freeways, creeping bumper-to-bumper traffic, wind, snow, and rain. We saw it all. From Waco through Austin and San Antonio, it is nearly continuous urban traffic. We saw several recent accidents, including a three-car pileup of people who were probably not paying attention and following each other too closely. We also saw a beautiful new car that had just been side-swiped by a large dump truck. And most harrowingly, we were nearly side-swiped by a car doing the famously dangerous far-right lane to far-left lane lurch.

We made it, but it wasn’t easy.

And I think that such a road trip is an analogy for the Christian life.

We are all on a journey, and we will make it by God’s grace. The destination will be great: Paradise, rest, and basking in the light of God’s presence. Kind of like Padre Island minus the humidity. But no one promises it will be easy along the journey to our heavenly home.

In fact, it’s just the opposite. Over and over, Jesus promised his followers that they would face persecution, hardship, tribulation, and trouble in this life. “If they persecuted me,” he said rather bluntly, “they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20 NIV) He never promised that the Christian life would be all roses and candies. On the highway to heaven, there are many potholes, bumps, and dangers. And they will be difficult for us. But because of God’s gracious faithfulness, they will not prevent us from our destination.

Jesus spoke plainly: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) All of the trouble we face in life–the headwinds and persecutions–are subordinate to the joy of the kingdom of God toward which we journey. With confidence, we can claim the hymn’s words as our own: “Through many dangers, toils and snares / I have already come, / ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far / And grace will lead me home.”

Likewise, we confess with the apostles’ inspired words that despite the roadblocks of this world, we will make our destination: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church


Online or In-Person Services

Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

Follow Paul’s Journeys

Ray is organizing a pilgrimage to Turkey and Greece this summer to trace the steps of the apostle Paul. June 16-26, 2022. Destinations include Istanbul, Pergamum, Ephesus, Smyrna, Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Athens, and Corinth. The cost will be $4,551 plus taxes and fees. To see a detailed itinerary and to register (by May 1), please visit the Web site. And please share the word!

Diaconate

Our deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, February 13.

Atlantic Food Pantry

Please remember to support our local food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary.

The Revelation

We will be studying the Revelation to John beginning January 23. Bring your Bible and a friend. Sundays at 9:30 a.m. We will be studying 2 & 3 John and Jude this fall.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, February 16, at 1:30 p.m.

Pioneer Bible Translators

Here is a brief update from the Smiths:

2021 has been a whirlwind year for us! We began the year with our vision trip to Yotumwi and Kondu, along with finishing our training. As the year ends, we’ve now spent 4 months in our new home and have begun the exciting journey of language and culture acquisition, relationship building, translation ministry and trauma healing. By God’s grace, we’ve accomplished quite a lot in this short time!

Here’s how you can pray for their work:

+ Please pray with us for wisdom in purchasing a vehicle in the first quarter of 2022. This is a major decision with many potential hardships.

We have an upcoming trip to Kondu early next year that will pave the way for effective scripture distribution of the published Kondulese scriptures. + Please pray for God’s blessing on this trip and our meetings.

+ We are also seeking wisdom and provision for the future needs of the Kondulese translation project. We are looking especially into the areas of literacy development, scripture distribution, and scripture impact. There are similar growth goals for the Trauma Healing ministry. Please pray as we seek God’s wisdom and provision for these things.

We are constantly seeking God’s blessing on our language and culture acquisition.

+ Health is always a concern, both for us and our teammates. There are many potential sicknesses that can derail our progress in various ways. Please pray for our protection and quick recovery from illnesses.

+ There are many more pressing needs among our host-country neighbors than we anticipated. We are seeking wisdom and provision to provide for those in responsible and sustainable ways.

+ Pray for our visa process. Our work visa has been ‘deferred’; this is not necessarily bad news. But we need to have these challenges resolved within the next few months.

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on February 6. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

Ash Wednesday

First United Presbyterian Church is hosting an Ash Wednesday service to kick off the Lenten season: March 2 at 6:00 p.m. at 616 Chestnut Street.

From the Atlantic Public Library

VIP Connections is a new social club meeting Tuesday mornings at the library starting Feb. 1. While it is intended for the retired & senior population, anyone is welcome to come. Some weeks we’ll have a short presentation or play games; some weeks we’ll just socialize and drink coffee. In February we’ll talk about the library (2/1), learn about SAD and have free blood pressure checks (2/8), talk about the Great Backyard Bird Count (2/15), and chat with Jessica about Angels Care Home Health (2/22).

On Feb 10 we’re hosting an online presentation from psychologist and author Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee based on her book Restart: Designing a Healthy Post-Pandemic Life. Find the library on Facebook.

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube. Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

December 2021 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: Season of Giving

One Sabbath, Jesus went to a dinner that was hosted by a prominent Pharisee. And Jesus—being Jesus—had a way of upsetting the social and cultural norms of his day. Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

And that was pretty counter-cultural back then. And it’s still pretty counter-cultural today. When we think about throwing holiday parties, we automatically think about inviting our family members. “Whose turn is it to host?” Even among families, there is an economy at work: I will host the dinner if you bring the food. Or some arrangement like that.

And when it comes to gift-giving, we likewise think about showering our kids, grandkids, and loved ones with extravagant presents. The latest technology (which will quickly become obsolete) or the newest toys (which will quickly be discarded). But let’s be honest: Whose kids or grandkids actually need more stuff? For that matter, do any Americans need more stuff? Our ideas about gift-giving come from a previous age in our history when people didn’t have as much stuff, and that idea is amplified by advertisers who want us to be good consumers.

But in both cases—gift-giving and hosting dinners—Jesus recommends something different and radical. Invite those who really need food and friendship. And give to the poor who really, actually need stuff.

In another place—when Jesus was offending people by telling them to love their enemies—he said, “And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Which is shocking still. But this is how we imitate God: by being generous to those who don’t deserve it and by lending without counting the cost.

And this may be unusual for me, but I want to give specific ideas for changing up your usual family-oriented gift-giving season. There are three options that would help us to be more like Jesus, our generous Lord:

  1. World Vision’s Gift Catalog (https://donate.worldvision.org/giftcatalog): Did you know that you can buy a goat for a needy family in another country for just $80? And that goat will give milk to that family for years to come! And did you know that you can fund a water purifier for just $50? Because it’s hard to go to school or really do anything else if you are sick from drinking dirty water!
  2. Church World Service’s Best Gift Catalog (https://cwsbestgift.org/): Did you know that you can provide an acre of sweet potato vines in Kenya for just $140? Or a dormitory room for a girl in Kenya for just $100? For comparison, the American Girl 2021 Winter Princess Doll costs $250.
  3. Kiva (https://www.kiva.org/): Kiva operates year-round, making micro-loans directly to entrepreneurs in other places. One frustrating thing is that official funding from our government rarely makes it to those who need it most. But Kiva cuts out the middleman and empowers people directly. So, make a loan to someone who is trying to improve their lives!

I challenge you to do Christmas differently this year. Don’t just buy a bunch of stuff that will end up in a closet or at Goodwill. And don’t just have parties with the same people. But reach out. Give to those in need without expecting anything in return. And provide a meal to those who can’t pay you back. And you will be repaid in full in the resurrection of the righteous.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Online or In-Person Services

Please join us for in-person worship! You can also worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that. Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:

http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube

Christmas Eve Service

Our friends at First United Presbyterian Church have invited us to worship with them on Christmas Eve at 6:00 p.m.

Read Through the Bible in 2022!

We are making plans to read through the Bible in 2022 as a group project. We will read separately through a plan and then meet weekly to discuss what we have learned. Stay tuned for more information.

Sunday School

Bring your Bible and a friend. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. We will be studying 2 & 3 John and Jude this fall. Then we will begin the book of Revelation in the New Year.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, December 15, at 1:30 p.m.

Diaconate

Our deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, December 12.

Annual Congregational Meeting and Potluck

We will have our annual meeting and potluck after worship on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Bring something delicious to share with our church family. If you have contributions for the annual report, please submit them to Luella by January 2.

Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering

We will receive the RMMO on Sundays, December 12 and 19. The RMMO goes to support retired church workers and their spouses. To learn more, visit https://www.abc-usa.org/rmmo/.

Church Choir Rehearsal

Our church choir will rehearse on Fridays, December 3, 10, and 17, at 3:30 at the Highfills’. Bring a friend!

Atlantic Food Pantry

Please remember to support our local food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary.

Cass County Choral Society

The Choral Society’s Christmas program will be Tuesday, December 21, and Wednesday, December 22, at 7:00 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church building (800 Poplar Street) in Atlantic. The concert will feature Christmas carols, solos, handbells, a Christmas cantata, and refreshments provided by the United Methodist Women. Admission is a free-will offering, and the proceeds will be split between the Choral Society and the Atlantic Food Pantry.

Sharing God’s Word with the Nations

Please keep praying for the Smith family. They are in Africa, beginning their work as translators for God’s Word into a new language. You can find updates on their work on Facebook: “Smith Family Translates.” They also have a newsletter that is available on their Web site. Subscribe for regular updates.

Communion

We celebrate the Lord’s Supper every first Sunday of the month. We will be observing it next on December 5. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.

(https://www.facebook.com/firstbaptistatlantic)

Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube.

Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.