Looking Back and Pressing Forward
I have been preparing for our upcoming Anniversary Sunday by reading the Emmanuel Baptist Church history compiled by Mrs. Nancy Collie in 2000. It is brief and only hits the highlights, but it is so encouraging. It is always good to be reminded of the faithfulness and sacrifice of those who have labored in this field before us. Every new church member enters into a local body that was living before they became part of it. Our church, because she is a local body of Christ, can look back with joy on the work of Christ in and through her since her constitution in 1950. She was planted in this community by First Baptist Ruston and quickly grew to be a shining light, reaching out to the lost and making disciples that went on to faithfully serve in this community and throughout the world. It has been a blessing to read of all the men and women saved, discipled, and sent out to serve Christ. This is why I am so excited to have Blain Markham here with us on October 3 for our Anniversary Sunday celebration. Bro. Blain was licensed and ordained here at Emmanuel in the 1970’s. We see the fruit of years of faithful labor in the lives of those we have sent out. Paul stated in Philippians 3: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. We know from the rest of Paul’s writings that he took great joy in recounting the faith he had observed in others and the faithfulness of God he had experienced in the past. His encouragement is not to rest upon past accomplishments or to set aside our present progressive sanctification. The goal is the Image of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Glory. I am so excited about what God has in store for Emmanuel Baptist Church. God is using us right now to make disciples, and I believe He desires to use us in greater ways as we truly become a church full of disciples who make disciples.
We have to be careful not to measure our significance with a metric which is worldly. I thank God for the encouragement of growth measured by numbers, but we must pray for God to empower and give us the vision to see something a little harder to see. We need to aim for growth in faithfulness and focus on the task our Lord has given to us, to make disciples. We must find our joy in our members growing in holiness and mentoring and encouraging others to grow in Christlikeness. The world is changed one disciple at a time, and there are few shortcuts. If we are faithful to this task, we can trust the Lord will sustain and give us all we need to accomplish it until the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ!