WE ARE FLATWOODS

Flatwoods family,
 
I hope you truly enjoyed being together with the church this past Sunday!  Our weekly worship gatherings are essential, and allow the church to gather in order to remind ourselves that God is in charge, Jesus is King, and the Holy Spirit is sending his church to make disciples who make disciples.  Our time of worship was so rich, so true, and so right!
 
As you may know, last week your church staff tucked away for a 24hr retreat.  I am very thankful to serve with a church that encourages the staff to take time to pray and seek God’s desire for Flatwoods.  It was a rich and rewarding short retreat.
 
Sunday we started a new sermon series we are calling WE ARE FLATWOODS.  It is my desire to effectively look at Scripture to determine who we are, why we are here, and what God is calling us to.  So we will take 5 weeks to unpack this series.
 
This past Sunday I went a direction I wasn’t really expecting.  My question was what is God doing?  My contention is, if we want to decide what we need to be doing, we need to discover what God is doing in the world.  Let’s align our hearts with the heart of God, or said another way, let’s align our values with what God values.
 
One central piece to this sermon was a prayer for this series.  Here is that for Flatwoods…
 
 
Pray this prayer with us as we seek to be the church God has designed.  
 
Here are a few next steps I shared Sunday.  I hope these steps will serve as a practical way to apply this sermon.  If you didn’t catch the sermon Sunday, you will find it below.  
 
NEXT STEPS
  • Add this prayer to your prayer list – Psalm 67:1-2
  • Who/what are you worshiping?  If not God, how can you realign your heart to worship Him?
  • What is God saying through His word?  What am I going to do about it?
 
 
AROUND THE TABLE 
[creating conversation with your family around the breakfast or dinner table] 
  • Read Psalm 67 aloud.  What was your favorite part of what we read?
  • What is God doing in the world?
  • How can our family be a part of what God is doing in the world through Flatwoods BC?
 
 
 
 
 


A KING IS COMING

 
 
 
 
Flatwoods family,
 

It was great worshiping with you this past weekend.  Our worship gatherings are an ongoing reminder that we need the church and our worship should be for God’s glory not ours.  Through our worship gatherings we are pulled together for a common purpose and reminded of our common mission.  Also, as disciples of Jesus we need other disciples of Jesus walking alongside us as we continue to walk the ever changing path of life.   

This is one reason I was so excited to hear of so many spending time with their connect group Sunday evening.  I challenged connect groups to use Sunday night to grow in their love for Jesus, one-another, and others.  I pray Sunday night was a window into the beauty of connect groups and the vital role they play in Flatwoods.  Thank you for taking this evening serious and making time to be together! 

 

____________________________ 

 

I started a short 3 sermon series last weekend revolving around Jesus as King.  This seems fitting and right as we journey through the Christmas season.  It was my desire to look back to a time in Israel’s history where the anticipation of their coming rescuer King was apparent. 

Christ our King has come!  We can say these words with great confidence, however there was a time in history where the sentence had to be a question rather than an emphatic statement.   

When will our King come?  Israel, although a nation with kings in her history, was waiting for a King like no other king.  The Old Testament, with all it’s personal dialogue, historical narration, poetic prose, and words of wisdom, is full of anticipation of a coming rescuer, a coming King.   

The prophet Isaiah delivers one of the most specific prophecies concerning this coming King in chapter 7 of Isaiah.  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  The final word of this verse, which is the name of this King, gives us a clue into just how magnificent his coming will be.  He will be a man, but not just any man, this will be God with us or God with His people. 

Isaiah gets a little more specific as he continues his prophecy of this coming King.  He states, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  What a prophecy and what a statement.   I can since the weight of Isaiah’s prophect as He reaches across millenia to a time yet seen.   This King will be the king Israel always needed. 

These prophecies and many more give us a window into what may have been in the back of the mind of the Israelites, especially during their exile.   

During Advent we can for a brief season place ourselves in the shoes of Israel and ask, “When will our King come?”  We can since the darkness surrounding us with the current sin of our nation and our own lives.  We can feel the need for a Savior as we are continually pressured/tempted to find rescue in lesser gods and temporary substitutes to Immanuel. 

During Advent we wait patiently for this coming King, knowing all along that God is faithful and Christ has come just as Isaiah prophesied.  As you wait, spend time with Jesus.  Take time to talk with your children about the magnificence of this man.

I look forward to unfolding part 2 of our sermon series this Sunday!  
 
– Jonathan Johnson

 

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NEXT STEPS

Rest in King Jesus.  What is your strategy to find satisfaction in life? 

Listen to King Jesus.  Whose council are you listening to as you navigate life? 

Worship King Jesus.  What god/God are you worshiping this season? 
 
 
 
 
 


PATHWAY TO PEACE (part 2)

As I think back over our worship gathering this past Sunday, a word that comes to mind is WOW! What a great day we had together!
 
I think back over the months Flatwoods prayed for Ashley Dearien as she carried little Nash with concern in her heart. I think back over the flight to Little Rock and the many days their family spent waiting for Nash to be released. How awesome it was to see Matt and Ashley stand before our church to dedicate Nash to God and dedicate themselves to raising him in a gospel-centered home.
 
I think back over the 3 disciples of Jesus who were baptized. CJ, a man striving to straighten his life out, but knowing that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Robert, a believer for some time and his son Brandon, a young follower of Jesus, both declared their allegiance to King Jesus as they went through the waters of baptism painting for us a picture of the redemptive work of Jesus.
 
What a great time we had together Flatwoods!
 
If Sunday morning wasn’t good enough, we then gathered again to remember Jesus through communion and finished our time by praying together.  Sunday night I talked about sacrifice. This word has a thread that runs through the biblical narrative. In every case, a sacrifice was needed and a sacrifice was provided. Until one day the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world laid his life on the altar as a ransom for many. This was a sacrifice for more than one person, one family, or one nation. This was a sacrifice for the sins of the world. What a man!  What a sacrifice!  What grace!  What love!
 
As we enter into this Advent (coming) season, may we reflect on the first Advent (coming) of King Jesus and look forward to the second Advent (coming) of King Jesus! I hope we will be a family of families who prays together, plays together, rejoices together, worships together, and lives as sent ones together. May we be a church who lives everyday life with gospel intentionality!
 
God bless,
Jonathan

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NEXT STEPS
1.  Practice Praying, Pray Often, & Pray Together
2.  How can you change your thinking as you reflect on Philippians 4:8-9?
3.  How are you responding to anxiety? What response needs to be replaced with prayer and supplication?
 
 


PATHWAY TO PEACE

Hey there Flatwoods family,
 
I really had a great time gathering with you all this past Sunday.  It was good to be back in the pulpit after an excellent 15 year anniversary vacation.  Our vacation was so good, so refreshing, and so relaxing.  
 
Sunday I jumped into chapter 4 of Philippians which began a two part sermon on peace.  Paul mentions peace twice in the first nine verse, which I think causes the word peace to jump off the page.  
 
Peace may not be a word we use often, but it describes the desire of our heart.  We desire our relationships to be at peace, our world to be at peace, our home to be at peace, and our mind to be at peace.  I believe God desires you to experience peace in all these areas, and if you know the God of peace through the Prince of Peace we can experience the peace of God.
 
I love what Paul encourages the Philippians church to do in Philippians 4:4.  Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.”  Coming off his discussion on conflict, Paul exhorts the church to rejoice.  Rejoicing is the verbal form of joy.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  As we are rooted in Christ, the Spirit bears fruit in our life and one result is joy.  Rejoicing is not manufactured through pure grit, but is a result of the pure joy that comes from knowing the Prince of Peace.  
 
I am sure by now your mind is already thinking about Christmas.  With Christmas comes a lot of fan fare, but I also with it comes focus.  Let your focus be on the Prince of Peace.  Jesus, the long expected Savior and Prince of Peace, broke into the world fulfilling all of Scripture.  If you are in Christ and Christ is in you, then you have the Prince of Peace with you.  He desires for you to experience the peace that came through His sacrificial death.  Remember the Prince of Peace died in your place, paid the debt you owed, in order that you might be at peace with the Father.  
 
If you didn’t catch Sunday’s sermon the video is below.  I look forward to worshiping with you all this Sunday.
 
God bless,
 
Jonathan Johnson
 
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NEXT STEPS FROM SUNDAY’S SERMON
1. Resolve conflict.  Is there someone you need to spend time with in order to resolve conflict
2. Rejoice always.  Are you living with a heart of rejoicing?
3. Be reasonable.  Are you reasonable and gentle as you live everyday life?
 
 
 
 


PHILIPPIANS 2:5-11

Hey there Flatwoods family!
 
It was so good worshiping with you all yesterday. Then to follow that up with an incredible time together serving Mountain View with our annual Trunk or Treat…talk about a great day.
 
I have been anticipating jumping into Philippians 2 in our Better Together series. This has to be one of my top ten passages in the Bible. So much is packed in such a short few verses.
 
The past two weeks I have said, “How you understand the church determines how you understand the Christian life.”  By and large it is through the context of the local church that we learn to walk with Jesus.  So, our mental picture of the church and our definition of the church are vital.  Once those two are established, Philippians 2:1-11 comes alive.
 
We talked a lot about the nature and importance of humility within the church.  Paul basicly says there is no place for strife, conceit, and pride in the church.  We should strive to overcome these with unity, love, and humility. Humility is very difficult to accomplish, especially in the face of current culture.  Paul uses Christ as our ultimate example and benchmark for humility.
 
I want to make one caution coming off of Sunday’s sermon.  Let us not confuse leadership responsibility with pride.  Everyone has been given a certain amount of responsibility and sometimes leadership responsibility. Whether you are a mother, husband, business owner, or servant leader, there is responsibility.  It is not prideful to lead and lead well.  Children need to be led, families need leaders, marriages need leaders, and businesses need leaders.  It is not prideful to say, “This is the way we need to go, follow me as I follow Christ.”  We can exhibit humility in our leadership and we all have the ability to follow those in leadership.
 
Humility has so much to do with the motive of your heart.  As Flatwoods Baptist Church, let us continuely check our heart against Philippians 2:5-11.  Does our mind and heart match up with what we see in Jesus?
 
As you walk through your week remember to ask yourself, “How can I let my something turn to nothing so that Christ can be made something to someone.”  Have an incredible week living as those made in God’s image, who have covenanted together to carry out the great commission.  If you want to catch yesterday’s sermon, check out the link below.
 
Much love,
Jonathan Johnson
 
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NEXT STEPS
* Pray through Philippians 2:5-11
* When it comes to humility, what does Flatwoods need from me?
* Do I need to seek forgiveness because of conceit or strife?  Go to that person.
 
AROUND THE TABLE
[creating conversation with your family around the breakfast or dinner table]
* Read Philippians 2:5-11
* What was your favorite part of what we read?
* What did you learn about Jesus from these verses?
* How can each of us live more like Jesus this week?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


TO LIVE IS CHRIST

Flatwoods family,
 
This past Sunday marked my fifth Sunday with the Flatwoods family. I know I have only scratched the surface at getting to know many of you, but it’s been a fun ride thus far.
 
Last weekend we reflected on the story each of us is writing with our lives. We are all writing a story. Your story is valuable because you are valuable to God. You are valuable to God because you are made in His image.
 
So when you look at the story you are writing, where does Christ fit in the narrative? Is He in the narrative? What role does he play? Sunday we talked about Paul’s incredible statement, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Christ was the center, the main character, He had the starring role in Paul’s life. He even went so far as to say that above all else “…Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Talk about Christ-centered!
 
I hope you have been able to reflect on your story. I pray you are allowing Christ to move to center stage as you drift to the background. We are so easily driven by the need for significance, and the desire for recognition that giving Christ the lead role seems impossible. Hang in there, learn to play the background, and make sure Christ is shining through in the narrative you are writing.
 
If you missed the sermon from Sunday you can catch it below.  I look forward to gathering with you to celebrate all Christ is doing through Flatwoods.
 
Much love,
 
Jonathan Johnson – Pastor
 
________________________________
 
NEXT STEPS
–  Think through your life story? Where do you see restoration (salvation) through Christ in your story?
–  Who is the hero in your story? You, someone else, or Jesus
–  Share your story with someone this week?
 
AROUND THE TABLE
[create conversation with your family around the breakfast or dinner table]
–  Read Philippians 1:18-26
–  What was your favorite part of what we read?
–  What do you think Paul means by “To live is Christ and to die is gain?
–  How can our family magnify Christ this week?
 
 


FELLOWSHIP IN THE GOSPEL

 
 
Flatwoods family,
 
I hope you were encouraged by our gathering on Sunday!  There was such a great spirit in the room that just spoke volumes.  Huge thanks to everyone who has a hand in making our gatherings so good and God-exalting.
 
I trust you have been able to focus on three rich words from Philippians 1:1-11…FELLOWSHIP, GOSPEL, and LOVE.  Remember that we desperately need Christ-centered community in our life.  The church is much more than an event to attend or a building we walk into.  As disciples of Jesus, we constantly need the church and the church needs us.  We say Christ-centered because “good church” comes under one heading who is Christ, and the glorious message of Jesus…the gospel.  Unlike predominate culture, the church is a community of believers who express love, care, and generosity regardless of affinity or lack thereof.  My prayer is that we will be a Christ-centered church that continues to grow in love even more and more.
 
Sunday night I enjoyed digging into what Paul calls the “fruit of righteousness.”  I believe Paul is once again speaking to a list he makes in Galatians and Colossians.  As we are rooted in Christ the fruit of righteousness or fruit of the Spirit will come to bear.  Here is what I shared with you….
 
 
My artwork wasn’t quite this good, but hopefully, this will be a visual reminder of what can be the reality when we are rooted in Christ.  As Paul mentions, these 9 fruits are a direct result of being rooted in Christ and are fruit of the Spirit.  
 
You also see four words to the right of the tree.  Here are 4 spiritual disciplines that can deepen your roots in your relationship with Jesus.  So look at your everyday life and ask…am I worshiping Jesus, learning about Jesus, communicating with Jesus, and growing with others in Christ-centered community.  
 
I am looking forward to coming together this weekend in celebration of what God is doing in us and through us.  
 
Much love,
 
Jonathan Johnson
– Pastor
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NEXT STEPS
– How can you deepen your fellowship with the local church?
How are you allowing the gospel to shape your identity?
– How can you actively love those in your sphere of influence?
 
AROUND THE TABLE 
[create conversation with your family around the breakfast or dinner table] 
– Read Philippians 1:1-11
– What was your favorite part of what we read?
– What are you most thankful for when you think about our family?
– How can we do a better of job of being good family, enjoying each other, and remembering the gospel?
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If you didn’t catch Sunday’s sermon, you can watch it here…
 
 
 


SUNDAY IN REVIEW

 
Flatwoods family,
 
I really enjoyed our time together this past weekend.  It was so good to gather together in celebration over what God is doing, anticipating what he will do, and reminding ourselves of the glorious gospel.
 
Thank you again for your love and care for my family over these first few weeks.  Our children are enjoying this new adventure in AR, and that sense of family is evident.
 
Thinking about Sunday, I am looking forward to walking through the book of Philippians together.  The Apostle Paul writes to this young church with such passion hoping they will remain in unity as they navigate the rough waters of culture.  He wants them to remain TOGETHER ever focusing on the gospel.  There is an overarching theme of TOGETHER throughout his letter.
 
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Here was something I mentioned in my sermon last weekend…
 
When you think Flatwoods, do you think TOGETHER?  When you think of church, do you think of a people who are walking TOGETHER on this journey?
 
Here is what I hope…I want us to discover through this series what it is in scripture that convinces us that it is “BETTER TOGETHER.”
 
Flatwoods has walked through many changes over the past year, and I am sure will be walking through more changes.  We will walk through some highs, and I am sure we will walk through some lows, but here is what I know…I would much rather do it TOGETHER than divided…TOGETHER rather than alone…TOGETHER rather than splintered…because it is always BETTER TOGETHER.
 
So, if God meant TOGETHER and not alone, how can we…
• Be together for King Jesus
• Be together for the gospel
• Be the church together
• Be the church together on mission
 
BETTER TOGETHER…We only get one shot at this deal…let’s do it TOGETHER!
 
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I believe we were all built for community, and the community we need is the local church.  I pray Christ will teach us about the beauty and importance of gospel-centered community, and we will walk away saying its BETTER TOGETHER.
 
NEXT STEPS
• Bless, Eat, and Story
• Pray for gospel impact in Stone County
• Discover ways to display and speak the gospel to folks like Lydia, the slave girl, or the jailer (Acts 16)
 
AROUND THE TABLE  [creating conversation with your family around the breakfast or dinner table]
• Read Acts 16:11-34 aloud or tell the story
• What was your favorite part of what we read?
• Who can we pray for and go to?
 
Have a wonderful week!
 
God bless,
 
Jonathan
 


LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS

 
Hey there Flatwoods,
 
Wow!  What an excellent first week I’ve had with you all!  My family continues to be blown away by your hospitality and love. We are thankful and excited at the same time.
 
I hope you were encouraged through our time together Sunday.  Jesus’ words in Mark 12 are so good and so clear. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and…love your neighbor as yourself.”  Two beautiful commandments from Jesus, who promises to be with us.  King Jesus is asking for undivided loyalty and allegiance, followed up with selfless love for our neighbors.
 
I shared a quote Sunday night I find very solid.  “The goal of a disciple of Jesus is relationship, not perfection.”  Jesus isn’t after another rule to follow or a list to complete, he is after relationship.  So that actively loving your neighbor is not a duty, but the result of living everyday life in relationship with the Father.  I am praying we will run to the Father this week rather than seeking a temporary fix to our ultimate need.  I hope you will seek the lasting joy that comes from Jesus rather than settling for “a cheap substitute.”  I pray the Holy Spirit will work in and through you as you lovingly display and speak the gospel.
 
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Here are a few next steps from our Sunday night gathering.  What could God do if Flatwoods lived this way in the coming weeks?
 
BLESS 3 people this week (one of whom is not a church member)
 
EAT with 3 people this week (one of whom is not a church member)
 
STORY…share your gospel story with someone this week
 
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Please know that I am praying for you this week.
 
God bless,
 
Jonathan Johnson
– Pastor
 
 
 
 
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If you missed Sunday’s sermon on The Great Commandment you can catch it here.