A True Barometer of your Spirituality

Have you ever considered comparing the amount of money you spend monthly or annually on secular entertainment verses Christian growth material? Why is it that Christians struggle at spending $60 on a good study Bible, but they don’t hesitate to spend $60 on 4 DVDs? Is there really any justification for this? A good study Bible will open God’s Word to a new or old believer unlike anything else he or she could have or buy.

There are several good choices one of my favorite is the Life Application Bible it comes in the KJV and other good literal word for word translations (don’t get the NIV or NLT). What is your favorite?

Another one I enjoy is the John MacArthur study Bible; I have that one in digits which is really nice for searching through it electronically.

I am very excited about getting a Berean Baptist Bookstore going in our new coffee shop this fall and look forward to providing the believers of Fayetteville another alternative for buying Christian resources that will help in their spiritual growth.

I would love to hear from you concerning your favorite study Bible and a book that you think we should stock.

The CrossFire Youth Group 2007 Mission Trip to Connecticut

Below is an article from Pastor Steve Rahn Berean's Youth pastor describing the High School Youth Mission Trip:

On Tuesday, June 12, 2007, we hit the road for Branford, Connecticut, the hometown of Pastor Tim Zacharias and his eight year old church plant, Community Baptist Church. Our group was quite the eclectic band of missionaries. We had had among our number fourteen teenagers—Casey Smith, Kirsten Paschal, Shannon Smith, Amy Vafai, Jon Beach, Hannah Plain, Greg Adams, Kimmy Nulf, Kelly Nulf, Amber Hawk, Katie Plain, Ryan Ikeya, Jared Smith, and Allie Paschal. We also had five adults—Steve and Denise Rahn, Tom and Michelle Baughan, and Mike Germany. We were accompanied as well by two small fries—Abigail and Meribeth Rahn, who were too young to stay home by themselves. We also had one Rudy Queen who shall remain uncategorized.

We traveled up Interstate 95 North around DC, through Philly, New Jersey and New York, over the George Washington Bridge, and pulled into the Days Inn about 11:00 that night. The newly reopened hotel (it had been shut down because of code violations—ouch!) welcomed us to their rather interesting abode, which was more than adequate, and yet somehow less than comfortable—perfect for a mission trip.

Wednesday we all woke up and dined on Duncan Donuts for breakfast. The Days Inn continental breakfast was not yet available, still recovering from those code violations, we presume. Pastor Tim Zacharias met us at the hotel that morning to introduce us to himself and to his ministry. We spent the morning putting together church mailers and door hanger packets as well as moving the church’s chairs, tables, signs and other items to a storage unit that Pastor Tim had recently rented. Wednesday afternoon we took a boat tour around some of the islands just off the coast in Branford, and we spent some time hanging fliers in some community neighborhoods. In the evening, we had a fellowship at the home of one of CBC Branford’s very hospitable families. We enjoyed some great food, fun at the lake, testimonies, and a biblical challenge from Pastor Tim.

We ended each of our evenings at the hotel with a devotional. Mrs. Rahn led the girls, and the male chaperones took turns with the guys. We had great talks and grew closer to God through these times.

On Thursday morning, we held a free car wash in the Days Inn Parking lot. While the “customers” were waiting for their car to get cleaned, we took the opportunity to explain to them about Community Baptist Church and invite them to visit the services. After lunch, we took a tour of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. And that evening, the Zacharias Family took us to a great seafood restaurant and then we watched the sunset at the beach.

Our group spent Friday morning and afternoon at a children’s ministry camp. We learned about leading young kids to Christ and heard some great tips for teaching missionary stories and Bible lessons. That evening, we enjoyed a unique dinner at a small Greek restaurant down the road from our hotel, and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Saturday was probably the highlight of the trip for us. Every year the City of Branford holds a large community festival. The festival grounds are lined with various booths, and Bro Zacharias has always had a booth at the festival to promote the church and their annual Vacation Bible School. This year our group got to be at the festival and man the booth. The church purchased a large kiddie pool and quite a few beach toys and held a drawing at the CBC booth. The kids who signed up were put on the contact list for VBS and it was a blessing when almost 300 kids entered the drawing! We are praying that God uses these efforts to draw many families to CBC Branford.

Sunday we worshiped in the morning with Pastor Tim and his church. The church has grown to around 90 people and they are praying that God will bless them with a building soon. They are contracted through December to meet in a local Community Building which is an adequate place for them to worship, but the lack of their own building is limiting them in many different ways. Please join them in praying that God will do a work in that situation. The people of CBC are very friendly and it is evident that Bro Tim has spent a good deal of time discipling his co-laborers there in Branford. They love the Lord and they love people. That evening we had special time at Lighthouse Park, a beautiful spot just down the road from Branford. We had some more testimonies and another great challenge from God’s Word.

Monday, we enjoyed a day trip to New York City. We saw quite a few sights, including the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero. We did some big city shopping, and made some big city memories.

Tuesday we made the long drive back to Fayetteville. Our trailer blew a tire and so we arrived a little later than planned, but our spirits were high and our attitudes were good. We praise God for affording us these opportunities and providing us with safety and wisdom as we went. Thank you for your support and for your prayers. Find a teenager and ask them about their experience—I bet you’ll get an earful.

Light for the Yard and Fans for the Porch

This past week I have been focused on a few projects around the house. My father-in-law was visiting for Father’s Day and he is such a joy to have in our home. He is handy and helped me install a flood light, two ceiling fans and a utility sink. For those of you who are thinking that isn’t much you are right but all of us aren’t quite as talented as you. I want you to know I also changed the switching so that I could turn both fans on at the same switch and the lights on with the other switch.

The light on the back porch chases away the darkness instantly and provides a sense of security because of the manner in which it illuminates the back yard. The light allows us to know that danger is not present. The light makes it safe to play in the back yard. The light attracts insects and other flying things. They are drawn to the light. Why? I don’t have the answer, just like I don’t have the answer why two people can hear the exact same plan of salvation and one responds and the other doesn’t.

It is no wonder Jesus called Himself the light of the world. This Sunday we will examine John 8 where Jesus again identifies Himself as the Light.

I know you are thinking this has very little spiritual application but I thought I would share with you briefly to remind you that preachers put up lights and work on their houses just like every other member of the church. We also cut grass, wash clothes, and take out the trash and on and on. Of course you knew that.

A Significant Change on Wednesdays

In the fall of 2007, Berean Baptist is going to change the way it does Wednesday nights in a way that will surely glorify God to an even greater degree. Let me tell you about it. As an independent Baptist church, we, as a local congregation, are free to change the manner in which we assemble and worship as we see fit under the leadership of the Lord Jesus.

So let’s be sure we begin with the understanding that Jesus did not establish the Wednesday night prayer meeting—that was a man made invention and it has served the church well for many years. However, Berean is at the point where a change it needed and a change for the better I am sure.

Berean hosts its Awana program on Wednesdays and will continue to do so as a ministry to children. Awana must remain a top priority and it is a wonderful curriculum and club to use under the leadership of godly men and women committed to helping our children adopt a Biblical worldview by the indoctrination of God’s Word.

Next, we will still have a focus toward providing Bible study and activities for our junior and senior high youth. Pastor Steve Rahn will continue to preach to the young people and many other adult leaders and assistants are needed to help with these two very important departments. The church of tomorrow meets in building 3 on Wednesday nights.

Now for the change. In order to substantially increase our enrollment and participation in FAITH evangelism, Berean is moving FAITH to Wednesday nights. Church will start with a simple meal together in the fellowship hall and then move to discipleship classes all over the campus. I believe substantially more adults who have not been able to set aside Wednesday and Thursday nights will now be able to be involved. We will teach FAITH basic, FAITH advanced and then other extracurricular classes like spiritual warfare, leadership, prayer, classes on cults and many others.

Our discipleship classes will be focused on helping every member grow in their knowledge of the gospel and the doctrines we hold to be fundamental to the faith. In this manner, the pastors and teachers will be equipping the saints to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

Our goal is simple. Every member of the congregation needs to be trained in FAITH 101. This will not happen over night, but those members who spend at least a year at Berean and are willing to be faithful to Wednesday night FAITH training will be afforded an opportunity to be discipled.

After a time of eating and Biblical training, FAITH teams will then depart the campus to visit any member in the hospital, our shut-in members, visitors from the past Sunday and those who are struggling at being faithful to Sunday morning adult Bible fellowship hour.

Certain nights will be dedicated to knocking doors and conducting opinion polls in order to share the gospel and invite prospects to our Sunday worship services.

For those not interested in participating in FAITH, there will be special rooms set aside for prayer meetings.

Quite frankly this will increase the degree to which Berean is obedient to the great commission more than it has ever been in the past.

Now I want you to consider what you know about the 1st Century church in Acts and then consider how similar this is to what they did.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Every Wednesday night we will be involved in teaching the apostles doctrine, fellowshipping as a group of believers, breaking bread together, times of prayer and we will be witnesses of Christ in Fayetteville and the surrounding community.

This change has the greatest potential of impacting our community with the Apostle’s message of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is absolutely no doubt that the gospel includes repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that the gospel presentation Berean teaches and uses includes the necessity to repent makes Berean one of the very few churches in Fayetteville sharing the true gospel. To preach anything less is disingenuous. God is still in the business of commanding men to repent (Acts 17.30).

Jesus preached a necessity to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Anything less than that is another gospel. Repentance is the fruit of salvation and a gift of God. .It is NOT a work that secures man’s salvation.

The T in FAITH is for turn. Turn describes repentance. The failure to preach repentance and the absence of Christ’s expectation that His disciples take up their cross and follow Him is setting the conditions for a multitude of people who believe they are Christians but in reality gives little or no evidence that they have been changed by the power of the gospel.

They have been lulled into a false sense of security, and Paul’s admonishment for each of us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith falls on deaf ears to the destruction of the soul.

I pray that our Sovereign God will use Berean’s FAITH teams to accomplish His will such that He is not willing that any should perish. We, O’ God, commit to being faithful to the great commission and ask that you bless this change as we strive to be an Acts 1.8 church.

May no one ever question Berean’s commitment to the salvation of the lost souls as God uses mere humans to preach the truth! For truly how shall they hear and believe without a preacher?

A Letter from the War Front

I received this letter today: I wanted to share it with you as we must be ever mindful of the need to pray.

I am back from my most recent mission. The length of our rest is still unknown, but I will certainly enjoy the time I have to sleep in a bed at Kandahar Air Field (KAF) instead of on the ground. This last mission took us back into the lion's den of the Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It began with great sorrow as a Chinook was shot down with the first lift of our air assault killing 7 soldiers. The toll continued as another soldier in one of our sister companies lost a young sergeant. We paid a heavy price on this mission, but we made the enemy pay a heavier one. At least 5 Taliban leaders and in the hundreds of enemy fighters were killed through our efforts and the efforts of our coalition partners.

My platoon again saw direct contact with the enemy, but by the grace of God no one was hurt. We treated civilians on the battlefield, who were caught in the crossfire, and detained a suspected terrorist facilitator. We brought humanitarian aid to the locals and gave them a sense of increased security. I pray that our efforts will help show these people that a better life is possible for them. Afghans in the Helmand Province have been held at the will of the Taliban for so long that they are too scared to come forward and help us. Those who do often find themselves in great danger. Finding a body without hands or a head drove that point home. Death in this land is as normal as apple pie back home. It was not uncommon to see men pushing wheel barrels with dead bodies in them. What a stark contrast this scene was to anything we would see in the United States. It truly makes you appreciate home.

We continue to be placed in dangerous places because that's where we are needed. We are breaking the back of the Taliban. They are not able to recruit as many fighters as they would like and estimates indicate that we have killed about 30% of their forces in the Helmand Province. This has been considered a pivotal year for the war in Afghanistan. If this is the case, then things are in our favor.

Thank you all for your love and prayers. Truly God has been with us throughout these missions. He will never leave me nor forsake me. How comforting that is to know. The words of King David in Psalms 23 have never been more true when he said, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me." I was in the valley of the shadow of death; it's name was the Upper Sangin Valley. I literally walked through it and feared no evil for Jesus Christ was with me.

BBA Commencement Address 2007

Tonight is an important night in your life. At no other time in your life have you been more of an adult than tonight. The completion of your formal high school education has come to an end and the beginning of learning as an adult starts tonight even as I speak to you. From this point forward you will begin to make more and more decisions that affect all kinds of aspects of your life. As each day moves forward your parents will be less involved in parenting and more of a coach and mentor. The more you mature the more your relationship will blossom into something wonderful that you didn’t even know was possible.

On behalf of every parent, all of the academy’s teachers, your principal and Berean’s team of pastors let me say, “Job Well Done!” Congratulations. You have done what many do not do each year, you finished the course. Your diploma represents your commitment to finishing the course. Moreover, you are graduating from a tough private school with many rules that most would not be able to follow. Yet you demonstrated self-discipline and self-control many times throughout your high school years—which are tremendous characteristics every employer wants in a new employee.

I wish I could say otherwise but the reality is the world you enter as young adults has many challenges which will require decisive leadership by yourselves and many of your peers. Since September 11th 2001 America and its way of life has been permanently altered. You enter life as an adult with the full knowledge that America has an enemy who hates everything about our liberty, lifestyle and legacy of democracy and freedom. I simply remind you of this fact to momentarily cause you to think about what potential challenges your generation will face.

In many ways you are like the classes that graduated during World War II. Yet the enemy we face today is even more difficult to pinpoint, track down and eliminate. This is a significant challenge. One that your generation will, without a doubt, meet we pray by God’s Sovereign blessing without compromise.

Tonight is a great night. This weekend is a time for celebrating about the accomplishments of 12 years of education. With the assistance of God’s grace you have done it!

Let me give you just a few challenges for your future before we say good bye to you as students of the academy and welcome you into the world of adulthood.

1. Separate the rules that you lived with in the academy and home from your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Living within a set of guidelines and following the rules will be something you may be called upon to do as adults in various college settings and employment opportunities for the rest of your life, but this has little or nothing to do with loving God with all your heart, soul and spirit. Do not let that affect your soul’s health.

When a helicopter pilot realizes that the cargo he is carrying via sling load below the belly of the aircraft is interfering with the safety of the crew he must cut sling load. You too must let all the baggage of the past go. From this point forward focus on what your young adult relationship with Christ will be. Please do not allow the safety and health of your soul to be jeopardized by the baggage you have from the church, school or home. Remember the best of BBA and let the rest go away.

2. Decide for yourself if the faith of your father and mother is your faith. Choose for yourself. Think for yourself. Examine yourself to see if you are in this faith for yourself or for your parents.

With your eyes you can see the battle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. But there is a far greater battle occurring that cannot be easily seen with the naked eye also all over the world and this battle is for truth. What is truth?

Eventually you must decide what you believe to be true. What are the truths that you will live by? You are and will live in a postmodern society that denies the existence of any absolute truths. Every effort is being made to minimize God’s right to rule in the kingdom of men and this is being done primarily through the notion that truth is applicable only to the person who holds it to be true.

You will need a moral compass to guide you in ethical and moral decisions. Many of your peers will rely upon what feels right at any given moment. I will tell you that if you live by that standard your life will be filled with unnecessary heartache. Let me encourage you to rise above that and choose for yourself what you believe to be true and live by those beliefs all the days of your life.

I promise each of you that you will never regret living by a biblical worldview.

3. Learn to number your days. One thing is certain you will only live once and so each of us must make the most of our days. For now you can’t even fathom being 40 years old but life is truly like a vapor and we must redeem the time.

James Truslow Adams said: "The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it."

Jesus Christ said, “don’t lay up treasure on this earth where it decays but create for yourself eternal moneybags of reward.”

Don’t waste your life away. Please don’t spend the next decade trying to find yourself.

4. Work hard at avoiding a prideful arrogance that plagues talented young people like each of you. Instead, be willing to serve others. Prideful people are always such a turnoff. Moreover an attitude of pride completely denies God’s role in blessing you with skills and knowledge.

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, pastor of the Lutheran church near Valley Forge and one of the founders of the Lutheran Church in America, noted concerning General Washington:

I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues. From all appearances, this gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God’s Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. Therefore, the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues, etc., and has hitherto graciously held him in His hand as a chosen vessel.

Strive to develop a servant’s heart. Recognize that the greatest joy and satisfaction you will get in life will be when you are serving others.

Humble yourself before God and let him exalt you before your peers. Trust in God’s promise that promotion comes from above.

5. Fear God. Never let your thinking ever get to the point that you don’t have a reverential respect for the Sovereign God of the Universe.

In October of 1816, Daniel Boone wrote Sarah Boone: The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor, and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.

Believe with your whole heart in the Biblical truth that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Refuse to be a foolish adult and fear God.

6. Pursue God for all the pleasure it brings you.

The idea of pursue God for pleasure is based on the idea that God knows best. Serving Him is a delight that I learn to love—it becomes a joy to serve the King. This is the only way I can be content is all circumstances. I delight in the Lord and look forward to eternity with eager anticipation. I work for the reward that the King is preparing and just the thought of such reward brings me pleasure.


Ecclesiastes 12:13-24 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.