Live Boldly Podcast

Pastor David's Giving Challenge

May 1, 2021 • David Emmert

Pastor David’s Challenge A few years ago, Pam & I decided to change our lifestyle so that our budget would be oriented toward giving rather than spending. We downsized our home, eliminated some hobbies and made other changes that freed up our income. The end result was a greater level of giving than we ever thought possible. As always, Jesus is right when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) As you contemplate your own growth in giving during Live Boldly, consider the following steps. If you’ve never given to your church before, making a first time gift is an obvious place to start. Say you give occasionally- set a goal to give consistently. Ready for another step? The Bible talks frequently about giving of your first fruits. That’s farmer-speak for giving the first dollars from each paycheck. Think of the impact you could have if you started giving electronically each payday! How about setting a goal to give 10% of your income by the end of Live Boldly. Imagine the influence on your own children as they watch you rearrange your priorities to make tithing a reality in your home. Maybe you’ve experienced a financial windfall. It could be a modest amount like a favorable tax refund or a large amount like an inheritance. Think of the influence those resources might have both here in Tallahassee and around the world.

Trusting the Supplier

April 30, 2021 • Natalie Thomas

Trusting the Supplier by Natalie Thomas, Business Administer In order for my husband and I to go beyond our tithes, we had to reexamine our budget or what we call our spending plan. Since we felt that God had already given us an amount to increase our tithe by, I had the task of making it work in our spending plan. Since our monthly income for the most part didn’t really change, I took a look at all of our expenses to see what we might reduce. By reducing expenses we actually saved more than the amount of our planned increase in our giving. Now our spending plan lists our tithe first, then our beyond amount, and so on. Our giving process all started with us being obedient to the Word and I challenge you to take a step of faith and test God with your tithes and even beyond. What a blessing it has been for me and my family to bless our church that in return blesses so many other people. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 9:10

Taking the Next Step

April 29, 2021 • Natalie Thomas

Taking the Next Step by Natalie Thomas, Business Administer My husband and I had joined Celebration the summer of 2016 at the start of a church stewardship Initiative. During that time, the congregation was challenged to increase their giving. Pastor Emmert used a ladder in his presentation and asked everyone to take a step up the ladder. He encouraged them to make that first step on the ladder and give something. If you were giving, but not regularly, he encouraged you to take the next step to become a consistent giver. Since my family was already tithing, our next step was going beyond the tithe. Pastor Emmert asked us to really pray about what God was calling us to give, so we did just that. We prayed and felt that God gave us an amount. This was the first time that we gave above our tithes on a monthly basis. Sure, we gave to special offerings, but were never intentional in giving beyond our tithes on a regular basis. God was true to his word and opened up the floodgates, which ultimately made room for us to go beyond. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:10-11 (emphasis added).

Test God?

April 28, 2021 • Natalie Thomas

Test God? by Natalie Thomas, Business Administer When I was in college I made the decision to test God with my tithes. I didn’t have much money in college. Like most college students, I had limited income to cover my bills. My pastor at the time would go to Malachi each Sunday during offering to remind us about what God said about giving your tithes and to test God. Malachi 3:10 is a unique verse in the Bible, for in it God grants us permission to test Him in regards to tithing. Since I was a college student I knew all too well what a test meant, which was very interesting to me, the choice of words. One Sunday I decided to test God and have been testing him ever since. It’s really been a test for me as well, particularly in the hard times. It was in those hard times, like when the economy took a dive in 2008. My husband had to change jobs because no one was buying cars, but we continued to tithe. God provided for us in those difficult times, not just financially, but with good health, peace of mind, and unspeakable joy. To this day we are still testing God with our tithes and his word has not returned void.

Make Generosity a Habit

April 27, 2021 • Warren Halstrom

Make Generosity a Habit by Warren Halstrom, Worship Pastor I started out self-employed. A young musician is not often burdened with the responsibility of income. It was fairly easy, therefore, to skirt over the issue of giving for me. My pay was always irregular, and never for sure, so my pattern of giving was inconsistent. Then I began my first full-time Music Pastor job. Ten percent of the pastor’s salaries were deducted and given to the local denomination as a matter of policy in this church. I didn’t have a choice but to become a tither. In some ways, this was good for me and good for the body of Christ. It wasn’t, however, developmental in my understanding and heart toward giving. As I moved from that position, I was then in the more common position of receiving all of my net pay and consequently faced the responsibility of tithing 10% plus giving. While I had a heart to give, the reality of a low bank account balance and a growing family often overcame my good intentions. At times, I built up a rather hefty amount of money owed to God. Over the years, I was constantly trying to pay the tithe that I owed. Then, in the midst of my research into generosity, I made a strategic decision. I would go back to something that had worked quite well for me. I arranged for my giving to be automatically deducted from my salary each paycheck. This time, however, it was not forced upon me. It was my intention to make sure that my heart to be generous toward God not be thwarted by unforeseen expenses. The decision to automatically pay my tithe first brings me great joy. This way I know that the first fruits of my income are His and in the hands of His church before I could even think of spending it on a dishwasher or on Disney. I still have plenty of room for growth and do earnestly look forward to following God’s direction in taking new bold steps in generous giving. Are there steps toward habitual giving that you could take? Take a few minutes to pray for the courage to take bold steps toward becoming the kind of giver that doesn’t find themselves “behind” in their obligations toward God.

The Generosity Connection

April 26, 2021 • Warren Halstrom

The Generosity Connection by Warren Halstrom, Worship Pastor I am a worshiper. Lavish expressions of worship particularly through worship music are second nature to me. As I grew in my walk with the Lord, it became apparent I needed to understand the connection between worship and generosity. Surely they are connected. Wouldn’t a person with the greatest passion toward Christ also excel in generosity? While it was a new realization, it was obvious that if I was to grow in my relationship and walk with Christ, I absolutely needed to become generous, regardless of how unnatural it felt. A funny thing happened to me along the way to understanding and practicing generosity. My perspective on prayer took on a whole new meaning. Diverse areas of my spiritual life began to improve and I became a better person. I am certainly still on the journey, but without question, my personal investment in the understanding and practice of generosity may be the wisest thing I’ve ever done. Have you ever taken the time to seek out training on being generous? Sounds kind of funny but there may be uncharted territory in your life ready to be unlocked if you’re willing to turn a light on this part of your life. Take a few minutes to do an inventory on your own passion for generosity and willingness to have God lead you in this area.

The Gift of Grace

April 25, 2021 • Warren Halstrom

The Gift of Grace By Warren Halstrom, Worship Pastor When I became a Christian as a senior in high school, I faced the rather unpleasant reality that I had some considerable deficits in my character. I really didn’t care about others… at all. My orientation toward the idea of forgiveness came suddenly and unexpectedly because right around the time I accepted the Lord, my dad left my mom. I vacillated between self-righteousness and the truth that I had just been given the greatest gift anyone could receive, the gift of grace. Of course, grace comes with an obligation, to forgive others, just as I had been forgiven. That was hard, especially for me at that stage of my life. I carried much of my self-centered worldview into my new life in Christ. Then I married Shelly. Her family background is replete with selfless “others-centered” people with a track record of helping others as long as life itself. As I observed her heart for others and consistent acts of kindness, I became aware that you’re, at the very least, supposed to notice others, observe their needs, and seek to do your best to help out, even at the expense of your time, comfort level and money. While the journey was to be long, my first steps had begun. Are there first steps regarding Christian character that you need to take? What has God revealed to you about areas in your life that need change? Take some time now to ask God for the wisdom to see an area of shortcoming in your own character, and the willingness to take strides toward Christlikeness, that you may be a greater witness for Him.

Pastor David's Serving Challenge

April 24, 2021 • David Emmert

Why Sign Up to Serve?

April 23, 2021 • Tommy Hendricks

Why sign up to serve? by Tommy Hendricks, Family Pastor I was single, adventurous, and was ready to travel and see where God would take me. I got the experience of a lifetime, skills I would use in ministry, and even met my wife. I have challenged each of my seven children to take trips and adventures to serve in various ways. There is no doubt that serving at home and abroad helps shape your worldview. I knew that God had called me to minister and serve, and during these three years God not only provided but equipped me for the next season of my life. I have now served 25 years in the local church and those three years serving as a missionary gave me the experience and foundation I’m still building on today. We are all challenged to serve as believers in Christ. Sometimes that could mean moving or taking a trip that will change our lives. But it could mean serving in our local church and making a difference right where we live. I challenge you to take a step of faith and find your place of service in the local church or even as a missionary. Whether you’re single or married, life is too short to miss out on the adventures that God has in store for us. Sign up today to serve in your Jerusalem, Judea, or even Waterloo, IA (uttermost parts of the Earth). Are you ready to sign up? If you are already serving, thank you for sharing your gifts with the body.

The How

April 22, 2021 • Tommy Hendricks

The How by Tommy Hendricks, Family Pastor My friends back home wondered how I would make ends meet and if serving like this would be worth it. I was paid $60 per week and was supposed to be provided food and lodging. I ended up living in the church. They set up a bed in one of the Sunday school rooms, brought me weekly groceries, and I had access to the baptistery as my personal bathtub. I’m happy to admit that I never bathed in the baptistery, I ended up getting a gym membership at the local YMCA and that is where I took my daily showers. My first Sunday we only had five people and it was about 5 degrees outside. I would discover that this was the average attendance and temperature at Waterloo Baptist Church. I led the worship, the pastor preached, we had a paid pianist, and then one couple, David and Carolyn Newcomb. We sang, took an offering, and the preacher preached. It was like being in the twilight zone. During my time I would serve as the worship leader, youth and children’s pastor, and the janitor. David and Carolyn were more than a blessing to me and took me to the local buffet every Sunday to make sure I was being fed well. After Iowa I was moved to Charleston, SC and San Diego, CA. I ended my third year serving with a traveling creative arts mission team based out of Atlanta. With Missions USA we lived on the road for one year driving from event to event and just about every day did shows at churches, colleges, schools, and anywhere that would have us. We spread the word about missions and encouraged people to sign up for mission opportunities. I can honestly say that God more than provided for my needs during these years. I slept on couches, hotels, host homes, and even churches. There was always food to eat, a little money in my pocket, and I never really lacked for any basic needs. It was time spent trusting God for my daily provisions and meeting people that would change my life from one journey to the next. What is holding you back from serving? How has God made it possible for you to use your gifts serving in our local church?

The Call

April 21, 2021 • Tommy Hendricks

The Call by Tommy Hendricks, Family Pastor I was just a few weeks from my college graduation and I was excited about my next phase of life. While all my buddies were getting married or finding jobs, I had signed up to be a semester missionary and planned to serve the next few years around the country. I had no idea what was in store, but I was ready to travel and explore ministry opportunities. I had found out about mission opportunities through my college Baptist Student Union. I had been serving at a local church and had been on many short-term mission trips, but I looked forward to this new adventure and leaving Oklahoma. I was sitting on the couch in the BSU at the University of Central Oklahoma waiting to hear the response from our Home Mission Board. I had the opportunity to select a few areas and types of ministry I was interested in, but my assignment that I got was not even on the list. The phone call came and I learned I had been assigned to a small church in Waterloo, Iowa, in a very unchurched area. I packed my bags, bought some cold weather clothes, and took my very first airplane ride from Oklahoma City to Waterloo, IA. We had one layover and my second flight was a very small passenger plane. The kind where you can see the pilot and there were only about 8 people on the plane. We flew through a snowstorm and I quickly discovered why the little white baggie was placed in the seat pocket in front of me. Let’s just say I filled up the bag and praised God when we finally landed. I would have kissed the ground when I got off, but there was about two feet of snow. The guy who picked me up was a friend of one of the church members and was chosen because he had a big truck that could safely deliver me back to the church. I would only see him one more time in the next five months. But I was glad that I had answered the call and I was ready to serve in whatever I was asked to do. Have you ever thought about short-term missions? Taking a mission trip? What would you say that God is calling you to do to answer the “call?”

Fellow Citizens

April 20, 2021 • Scott Carter

Fellow Citizens By Scott Carter, Mission Pastor Fast forward 15 years and our family was living and serving in Malaysia planting churches. One of the groups we started early in our time there was a house church group in our neighborhood area. Through this ministry we had the privilege of leading an older Chinese couple, Uncle Koh and Aunty Rose to Christ. When it came time for baptism, we did not have a place to do the baptisms. Our house group decided to travel to the town of Port Dickson. I was able to obtain permission to do the baptism in the ocean on the beach of the Baptist Camp I mentioned yesterday. During the moments we were on the property, the conversation I had been a part of in 1996 on the bench overlooking the ocean came rushing back to my mind. I realized that my call and years in ministry had come full circle. In the same spot where the Lord opened my eyes to the nations, I had the privilege of baptizing Koh and Rose. It was a very surreal moment that I will never forget. During our years of church planting in Malaysia, we had the privilege of baptizing people from all over the world. After 25+ years of serving the Lord in full-time, vocational ministry and missions, it never ceases to amaze me that God calls us to the front lines of his mission. Instead of saving us and taking us immediately to heaven for eternity, or lining us up on the sideline to show us what he is doing, God saves us from our sin and saves us into the church and into his mission. The risk seems high for God to entrust his mission to us, but we know His mission succeeds. We are called to serve the mission of God in and through the church. Where is God calling you to serve Him in his church? Read: Ephesians 2:11-3:10

The Great Commission

April 19, 2021 • Scott Carter

The Great Commission By Scott Carter, Mission Pastor So at 23 years old, I found myself making a career change, and I landed in the City-State of Singapore, where I served as the youth pastor at International Baptist Church of Singapore for two years. Singapore is a fascinating country, very multi-cultural; a crossroads of Asia and the world. These couple of years afforded me the opportunity to travel all over Asia and experience different countries and cultures. Absolutely the best thing I could have done with these two years of my life. One time in particular, I was sitting on a bench one morning at the Baptist camp in Port Dickson, Malaysia overlooking the Straits of Melaka, the body of water separating Peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A fellow missionary came up, sat by me, put his arm around me and asked, ”You see the horizon? That is Indonesia. There are 225 million people in that country who have never heard of Jesus Christ. Will you give your life to serving the nations and seeing that the unreached of the world have the opportunity to hear the gospel?” In that moment I knew my life and ministry would be given to that task. Over the last 25 years, though the pathway and how that ministry is carried out has changed, the mission has remained the same. The call on all of our lives as followers of Jesus is to make disciples of the peoples of the world. It may look differently for each of us, both in vocation and location, but the mission remains the same. How is God calling you to be a part of the Great Commission?

Go Follow

April 18, 2021 • Scott Carter

Go Follow By Scott Carter, Mission Pastor I have a question for you...if God was to call you to leave what you are doing and where you are, are you ready to follow Him? As a young single adult of about 22 years of age, the Lord used a series of events in my life at work and church to disrupt the pattern and direction of my life. I was a fresh college grad working in banking in Nashville, TN and very active in my home church there. The Lord led me to go on a mission trip to Scotland. During the preparation for this trip and the trip itself, the Lord affirmed in me my spiritual gifts and used the trip to turn my life as I knew it, upside down. Over the course of the subsequent weeks and months, I knew I was not going to be where I was, doing what I was doing, for long. Through this very intense period of prayer, Scripture, and seeking godly wisdom from other believers, the Lord called me to leave where I was and follow His call on my life. God used Genesis 12:1-3 to guide me to missions. I am no Abram, and the Lord was not establishing a covenant people through my family lineage. However, the Lord used these verses to lead me to follow him in faith to a foreign land, for the sake of the gospel.

Pastor David's Discipleship Challenge

April 17, 2021 • David Emmert

Pastor David’s Challenge Not only is growing in our faith a biblical expectation for any Christ Follower, it’s also the surest way we can ensure a generational shift toward the gospel in your own family. Think of the impact you’ll have on your sons and daughters, parents and neighbors if they can visibly see you embracing a stronger faith walk. During Live Boldly, consider one or more of the following faith steps: Maybe you’re a new Christ follower and you haven’t taken the step of being baptized. Take a step. Make your commitment to Christ public and influence your friends and family to join you in your journey in faith. Maybe you only come to church occasionally. Take the biblical step of committing to attend church regularly. (Hebrews 10:25) Set a goal to attend 50 weeks this year! But don’t come alone. Use your influence and bring your entire family with you. Get involved in a group and join with other Christ-followers who are committed to studying the Bible together. There you can encourage one another to live for Christ daily. Take a step further and join a T-Group where you’ll spend each week in a highly accountable group of just 3-4 other believers where you’ll share in the opportunity to lead and have a chance first hand to make disciples. Prayerfully ask God which steps are the right fit for you and become a more influential disciple during Live Boldly.