FBC Blog

“Asking the Right Questions” by David Elks

I have read, taught and preached John 21:15-19 several times over the course of my ministry. It is the story of Jesus asking Peter, “Do you love me?” three times in the wake of Peter’s three denials. As I said, I know the story fairly well, but I had an interesting weekend with this story while I was at the Shalem Residency in June.

The night before I left for the residency I could not help but think that we have been asking the wrong questions lately. We have been asking questions like “How can we get more people in church?” and “How can we get these people to give?” These are important questions, but they are not the right questions for us to be asking at this time.

I went to the residency and enjoyed a week of classes and group interactions in spiritual direction. As the weekend approached I thought I would pray, read and listen for the Spirit’s guidance as to the questions we should be asking.

In the last class before our “Silent Sabbath” we were told a story about a woman who experienced a terrible tragedy. In the wake of the experience she felt the Lord saying “I want you to love me more than anything else.” The story did not set well with me, but I did not dwell on it. I set it aside and got ready for the weekend.

As I woke on Saturday morning the story came to mind along with the interaction between Jesus and Peter in John 21. I read the passage as my morning devotion and started the day.

As I went through the day the Spirit kept bringing up Jesus’ question… do you love me more than these? By the afternoon I realized that this is the question we need to consider. “Do we, as individuals and as a church, love Jesus more than these?” The answer may seem obvious, but it isn’t, especially when “these” are packed pews and full offering plates. “These” can be good things, but “these” become idols when they are our highest priority. Every good question prompts a few more and the questions behind “Do you love me more than these?” include “What are my ‘these?’” and “Why do I love ‘these?’” These are the questions we need to be asking right now and I will be writing more in the weeks ahead to help us pray and respond.

Peace, David


“Passportkids2017 Report” by Erin Collier

Earlier this week, seven children and two adults headed to Spartanburg, SC, for a session of Passportkids camp. It was a great week of talking about how to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (the theme of the week) and learning about Watering Malawi, the mission emphasis of the week. I could share a lot more about my personal camp experience, but it’s more fun to hear the experiences of the kids who went! Below are the thoughts of the kids who attended this year. If you see any of them at church, be sure to ask them more about their experience! (And, if you haven’t seen them yet, check out the pictures on our church Facebook page!)

“I love Passportkids. I liked all of the fun stuff that we did like go to the pool. I also liked all of the staff members. It was fun.” – Lauren

“Passportkids is fun. Worship was my favorite part of camp. I liked singing songs. All of the leaders were very energetic and exciting. I would go back if it were only two days long!” – Ava

“Passport is fun because all of it is very unexpected, especially on the first time. My favorite part was free time.” – Kaitlyn

“Passport was fun. I liked the people I met the most. The teachers were nice and energetic.” – Emily

“I liked free time when me and Dixon were playing ultimate ping pong.” – Ethan

“Passportkids is great. They have some of the best sermons, nice teachers who are very excited to see students, really awesome food, and a large pool.” – Addie

“The thing I liked was playing Capture the Flag and winning.” – Dixon

Thank you to those who prayed us through the week – your prayers were felt!


“Discernment” by David Elks

Discern. Discern. Discern. If there is a theme to my work in spiritual guidance, it is to discern.  Discernment is our hearing and knowing God’s call in our lives.  It is far more than knowing what we should do or what path to take.  To discern is to listen through the distractions in our lives and to receive the healing, blessing and invitation that is the abundant life.  

As I discern today, I want to thank you for the tremendous opportunity you have given me to participate in the Shalem Institute’s Spiritual Direction Program.  I participated in the second (and final) residency two weeks ago and was overwhelmed by the wisdom shared in the classes, the richness of the fellowship of the faculty and associates and, most especially, the attentiveness of the Holy Spirit.  I have a lot of work to do to complete the Spiritual Guidance program (reading, writing and giving and receiving “direction”) but I have already been blessed beyond my highest hopes for the program.  Thank you for encouraging me in this work and for the time to attend the residencies and complete the assignments.

I am a better Christian and minister because of the Shalem program and I look forward to sharing the fruit with you.  The best way I know to do so is to dedicate myself to helping us discern God’s presence in our fellowship.  Our lives are full.  Whether we work, are in school or are retired, we typically have something to do, somewhere to go or someone to see every day.  Much of what we busy ourselves with is good, but it can be better if we go with an abiding awareness of God’s presence.  We don’t just check in with God when we read a morning or evening devotion or when we attend church on Sunday.  God is always with us and God is inviting us to periodically be still and know (Ps.46:10) so that we may be fully alive as we go about our days. If you would like to know more about Spiritual Guidance or would just like to talk sometime about your life with God, I’d love to have a conversation.

Peace, David

“A Mid-Summer Ministry Update” by Erin Collier

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy…” Those famous lyrics from the 1935 musical Porgy and Bess may have some truth to them. Summer means no school, more beach trips, and time for rest and relaxation. But while the summertime livin’ may be easy, the summertime children’s ministry schedulin’ is a little more hectic! We have a lot that goes on here during the summer, as evidenced by the pictures you’ve hopefully seen on Facebook. Here’s a brief recap of what our children have been up to so far…

Vacation Bible School: 43 children attended this 3 night program of Bible stories, crafts, games, and missions. They learned stories about the many ways Jesus surprises us with his love, his compassion, and his grace, and had a wonderful experience thanks to the dedication of so many volunteers who helped teach, guide, and feed them each night. (If you know a VBS volunteer – thank them!) They also raised $225 for Marc and Kim Wyatt, CBF Field Personnel in Raleigh, NC, who minister to refugees and internationals in the Triangle Region.

Baptism: Gabrielle Hardee was baptized on June 18. It was a wonderful day of celebration as this child took an important step in her faith journey.

Lego Mini-Camp: 16 children played with Legos and learned Bible stories about David at the same time! I loved watching the creativity of the children as they took some of the building challenges I gave them (create a Lego Goliath, build a Lego crown) and brought them to life in so many unique ways. We had a blast together!

Still to come this summer? A trip to Passportkids camp in Spartanburg, SC (we leave this Sunday); Art Mini-Camp (with a focus on missionaries around the world); and Music Day Camp (we still have a few camper spots open – register today!).

All of these activities and ministries are not possible without this congregation. Your support (with finances, service, and prayer) allows us to offer meaningful activities for children throughout the summer. Thank you for being a congregation that values children and invests in their faith development!



“Emotions” by Doug Reedy

If you have never taken a Myers Briggs personality indicator test, it is worth your while.  There are free ones online that only take a few minutes to complete.  It is sometimes especially helpful in terms of your spiritual development and relationships to know how you differ from others in the way you preserve God, life, and family.

I’m an INTJ.  Without getting too deeply into it, INTJs tend to prefer rationality over emotion.  It doesn’t mean we don’t feel emotional at times, but it does mean we don’t make decisions based on them.  That’s a good thing, because emotions are buzzing around me like gnats right now.

After an intense week of camp with some truly amazing teenagers, I am always a little emotional.  They each are dealing with their own private issues, some that most adults would buckle under.  Seeing them bond together and support each other is a truly beautiful thing.  Although we see glimpses of that here, taking them to another setting always results in spiritual and relational breakthroughs.

Immediately coming off those emotions and coming home to see my much missed wife, daughter, and (to a lesser extent) dog stirs the soul even more so.  Then, seeing a youth hospitalized, seeing some of our collegians in town that don’t come often, and packing for what is sure to be a challenging hike totally off the grid, the last day or two has provided no emotional peace.

I am grateful that the next week will provide a lot of time to pray, walk, and soak in God’s creation.  It will provide time for reflection, and more prayer.  As I switch from the challenge of a 500+ student camp in the city to the challenge of no technology (seriously, we can’t even bring a watch) in the wilderness, my emotions could overwhelm me.  Yet, God is God and worrying is a waste.  Much love to the folks back home.  Prayers appreciated.

Peace, Doug

“I’m In” by Catherine Lee

When I say “I’m In!” at First Baptist Church, there are many reasons why.  First, I want to do my part in praying at least one hour a week for our church.  Prayer is important to me as a Christian because it is a way I can enjoy fellowship with God each day, knowing that He hears my prayers.  There are so many needs:  we have many friends, members and others who are sick or in nursing facilities, missionaries here in our state and around the world who depend on our prayers, a community recovering from a terrible hurricane, and dedicated ministers who need to be lifted up daily in prayer.  Prayer support is especially important as I think of the many lost souls here in Lumberton and around the world.  So, “I’m In!” for praying.

Then,  “I’m In!” by committing to give more than my tithe to support the church so that our staff can minister and do the work they are called to do and so that our congregation can move forward with the work God has called us to do.  I give so that mission work here in Lumberton and around the world will continue.  I also give because it is an act of worship to sacrificially give so that others will be blessed.

Finally, “I’m In!” because I want to serve God by serving others.  Right now I am serving my husband by staying with him each day and fulfilling our vows of “in sickness and in health.”  It is my privilege to visit others at Glen Flora and to send cards in times of bereavement, sickness and celebration.  “I’m In!” because I love to study God’s Word each day as I prepare to teach on Sunday and as I prepare mission programs for the Glen Flora Circle. I am committed to serving as God calls me and in whatever circumstances life brings.

Let’s all join together and be a part of “I’m In!”   There is still hope for God’s church because Christ died for it and we need to continually grow in loving Him and each other.

“Youth Mission Trip 2017” by Doug Reedy

Last August, when the Youth Committee and I met to plan the 2016-2017 year, we decided to raise the participation requirements quite high for going on the mission trip.  This, combined with a shorter trip, has left us with a much smaller group than we have become accustomed to traveling with to M-Fuge.  Although I expected them to be disappointed in this year’s numbers, the youth going on the trip are more excited for M-Fuge than I can ever remember.

Many of the youth going this year have reminded me that the smaller trips are often the best.  Some years I’m up late each night talking and praying individually with different youth into the early morning hours and still don’t get to have a one on one conversation with everyone.  This year, it is entirely possible I will be able to.

Some years, youth stay within their individual cliques as much as possible.  This year, I don’t expect that.  Everyone going has been hyper involved with our youth group this year, and some are becoming more involved with our church at large.  They are a close knit group already, and I expect them to grow closer.

For numerous reasons, I feel this year’s trip will be amazing.  I am expecting the Holy Spirit to move throughout our group and each individual attending.  Our hearts are open, and when hearts are open God never disappoints.

Please be in prayer for us.  Pray for individual decisions to be made.  Pray for damaged friendships to mend.  Play for youth who have never seen themselves as leaders to step up and lead.  Pray for unity.  Pray for our safety.  This year we bring a smaller, yet more committed group to Charleston asking for guidance from God.  Pray God will use us, especially these youth, to grow the Kingdom in ways we have not imagined.

Peace, Doug

“Thank You for saying I’m In” by David Elks

Sunday was a terrific day at First Baptist. We worshiped. We learned. We had fellowship and we made commitments. “Thank you” is the only way I know to say it, but those two words do not adequately express my gratitude for you and the responses you have made to the “I’m In” emphasis. To date, we have received commitment cards from nearly one hundred individuals, and each reflects your sincere desire to give your best to the growth of our church. If you have not returned your card yet, it is not too late! Mail it or bring it with you on Sunday, or fill out our online commitment card. We want to hear from you because every prayer, act of service and financial gift is important. For those who are offering to increase your service, I want to mention a few opportunities that are coming up this summer. I am including the date of the event/project and the minister you need to contact for additional information.

  • Community Café is on the third Saturday of each month—David
  • Prepare Communion on July 2—David or Erin
  • Greeter at Music Day Camp Concert on August 4—Erin
  • Office Volunteer—David
  • Offertory Prayer and/or Scripture Reading in Worship—Erin
  • Nursery Volunteers—Erin
  • Children’s Mini-Camp Helpers (June 27-29, July 18-20)—Erin
  • Greet and host Mission Team (July 15-22)—Doug
  • Friends of Jesus—David or Doug
  • Early Childhood Ministry (readers, tutor)—David or Erin

This is not an exhaustive list of ministries you can participate in. In fact, you can probably think of several ways to be the presence of Christ to our community. Take a closer look at the people you meet and activities you participate in on a daily basis. Do you see any unmet needs? Is God prompting you to help? We are only limited by our imaginations and willingness to try. Once again, “thank you!” for all that you are doing to share the love of Jesus Christ and to grow the ministry of our church.

Peace, David

“About our I’m In emphasis this Sunday” by David Elks

The church growth gurus out there would likely tell me that the first Sunday after school lets out is not the time to kick off a stewardship emphasis. They are likely correct. Summer is upon us, and many of you are headed to the beach or family vacations. I wish you safe travels throughout the summer. I also know that summer is an incredibly active season in the life of the church. Next week we will have Vacation Bible School, and in the weeks to come our youth will go to Charleston for Mfuge and our children to Spartanburg for Passport Kids. We will also have children’s mini-camps in July and Music Day Camp in August. There is no slow season in the life of the church, so I am asking you to join us this Sunday and say I’m In! at First Baptist.

I wrote you last week and asked that you not only say I’m In!, but that you increase your giving, prayers and service. Many of you have already returned the commitment card that was included in the letter, and I am thankful for your commitment and enthusiasm. This Sunday, we will dedicate a few minutes of both worship services for you to return your commitment card. We will do this at the close of the services. You can respond during the closing chorus/hymn or, if you would prefer, remain in place and Doug or Erin will come back and receive your card. Next week, those of you who have turned in your cards will receive follow up information as to how you can live your I’m In through giving, service and prayer.  Also, please be sure to pick up an I’m In Prayer Guide.  The guide includes a calendar of summer activities and a prayer model.

I was recently asked “when I say I’m In at First Baptist, what am I saying I’m in to?”  This is an excellent question. My first answer is that saying I’m In is a commitment to Jesus Christ.  It is putting our most valued resources (time, ability and money) into God’s hands in the faith that God will use them to deepen our church’s life in Christ and empower us to impact our community with God’s love.  When you say I’m In with your prayers, service, and finances, you are saying that you believe in a God who is working through churches like ours to make the world a better place.  There’s more to my answer to this question, and I look forward to sharing it with you on Sunday.

Peace, David

I’m In by Erin Collier

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of sitting on a friend’s ordination council. As she shared her story and her background with the council, particularly her fondness for the church that raised her, she made the statement that “at church I was nurtured and loved; therefore, I knew I was nurtured and loved by God.” The care, affirmation, and love that she received as a child in church had profoundly shaped her and empowered her and is now shaping her ministry as she seeks to help others know of God’s love for them.

In reflecting on that part of her story, I was struck by how simple and yet profound that statement was. That concept is the core of how I try to relate to our littlest ones at FBC in order to help them feel safe and loved at church and to associate those feelings with God.

The interesting thing is that nurture and care don’t require flashy programming or dramatic displays. Rather, they look like a million little moments. My friend knew that she was loved because people in that congregation were committed to be present and to help her learn and grow. Commitment from her church family…that was what gave her the opportunity to learn about and accept God’s love for her.

I believe that First Baptist Church is also a place of deep love and has the potential to have the same profound effect on both those within our walls and those in the community. Already, I see the fruit of that love and commitment in a million little moments that happen every day. I see it in the toddler in the nursery who is already caring for her peers and making sure each one is included. I see it in the preschooler who now confidently walks into his Sunday School class, a scenario that used to spark tears. I see it in the elementary schooler whose face lights up when she talks about the joy she feels when she gets to lead in worship. I see it in the middle schoolers who sing like angels in their choir. I see the fruit of that commitment in the teenager who chooses to take time out of her busy week to serve her community on Wednesday nights. I see it in the college student who still calls First Baptist Church of Lumberton his home church with a sense of pride in his voice. I see it in the young mom who steps in to help make sure all the children are fed on Wednesday night when a fellow mom is running late. I see it in the recent retiree who says “yes” to a new way to serve in the church. I see it in the nursing home resident who knits hats and scarves for others.

It’s because of all these things and more that I’m in. I believe that First Baptist Church is a place that nurtures and loves and empowers people of all ages to follow Christ in big and small ways, and I don’t think our work is done. There are many more people to love and to serve and so many possibilities about ways we can minister to and with them, if we are willing to commit to being a part of the next chapter of ministry through First Baptist. The church needs us, God needs us, and our community needs us!

Saying “I’m in” is also a personal statement that acknowledges that my commitment matters. So, I’m committing to give more, to serve more, and to pray more because I believe in this church and I believe in the God that has called us together. Your commitment matters, too. Please prayerfully consider how God may be calling you to say, “I’m in!”