*Peace Is Not an Empty Promise But a Guarantee (pg. 1)
T’Shana Everitt – As the holidays approach I listen to many families who are adjusting or even canceling holiday plans. I also hear news reports about political upheaval, riots and violence. The lack of godly leadership and chaos often leaves us with no sense of peace or hope. But as I ponder these things, my mind races back to the circumstances surrounding the time of Jesus’ birth. A casual description of that year doesn’t really sound much different from the circumstances of 2020 — political upheaval, corrupt leadership, violence, wars and religious unrest are all descriptions of the year in which Christ was born. Amid all of this chaos, God’s son, Jesus, entered the world as a baby born into a humble carpenter’s family.
*God’s Christmas Gift (pg. 1)
Jeff Swart – There is a word that we hear more often beginning the week of Thanksgiving up until Christmas Day than at any other time of the year — the word “gift.” At this time of the year, we spend a lot of time searching for just the right gift for our friends and family at just the right price. Have you ever wondered where the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas began?
*Crazy Christmas Schedules (pg. 1)
Amber Spencer – Do you feel like you are losing (or are just trying to find) the holiday spirit? Do you need some family bonding time? Boy, do I have your solution! Nothing brings out the Christmas spirit like combining the best of both your worlds — faith and family. Check out my list below to see how you can change the hustle and bustle of this time of year into fun and memorable family traditions.
Fall Priority Scholarship Deadline Reminder (pg. 2)
Terry Kimbrow – December 10 is the deadline for high school seniors and transfer students, who will be attending CBC for the Fall 2021 semester, to apply and receive the best scholarship awards of the year. To be eligible, students must apply for admission at cbc.edu/apply, submit transcript(s) and ACT/SAT/Accuplacer test scores and complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at studentaid.gov. Students who complete these steps will automatically qualify to be the first Central Baptist College applicants of the academic year to receive a scholarship award package.
Gearing Up for Christmas (pg. 2)
Dan Carson – Christmas is only a few weeks away, and it is definitely going to look unusual this year. To accommodate issues surrounding COVID-19, concerts, Christmas parties and other activities of the season will all be done differently or not at all. That is sad, but it is where we find ourselves. So, what do we do?…Here are three guidelines to follow as you work to provide socially distant, but meaningful experiences for your students:
*Doing the Right Things (pg. 3)
Larry Barker – Leaders certainly have a desire to do things right and correctly. It is easy to even become obsessed with an unhealthy pursuit of excellence. Perfection can become a curse that drives us to focus on unrealistic expectations. A great definition of excellence is doing the best you can with what you have. You should always strive to do things well and do them right but more importantly you must also ask yourself if you are doing the right things. What if the things you are doing right are not really the right things you need to be doing?
Pastor’s Wife Dies (pg. 3)
Robbie Lucille Carroll Williams, 81 of Fordyce died Nov. 12. She was the wife of Henry Franklin Williams, pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church at Fordyce. Bro. Williams previously served as pastor of Bearden Baptist Church at Bearden. Other survivors include: two daughters, Cathy (Paul) Jackson and Sonya (Jeff) Mogenson; a son, Darryl Williams; two brothers, Joe (Kay) Carroll and David Oliver; 6 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Just Thinking (pg. 3)
Tom Mitchell – BMA of Arkansas trailblazer James Ray Raines was my friend for over 50 years. I met him when I was just a boy preacher of 18 and he was a seasoned preacher of 27. Bro. Raines was born in DeWitt in 1937. He was an Arkansan through and through. He answered the call to ministry in 1953 at the age of 16. During his 67-year ministry, James Ray Raines met every criteria for a true trailblazer of the BMA of Arkansas. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Baptist College in 1960 while in his sixth year as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Fordyce. Despite being a young pastor, it was evident that he was greatly blessed by the Lord who had gifted him abundantly.
Bill Filed to End Abortion in Arkansas (pg. 4)
FamilyCouncil.org – On Nov. 18, Senator Jason Rapert (R/Conway) and Rep. Mary Bentley (R/Perryville) filed S.B. 6 to make abortion illegal in Arkansas except when the mother’s life is at stake. If passed, the bill will generally prohibit abortion in Arkansas and give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and other pro-abortion decisions. Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement saying, “Many people have been saying for almost 50 years that abortion should be illegal. The time has come for us to make it so. S.B. 6 will give the U.S. Supreme Court the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
These Things Remain (pg. 4)
Stuart Estes – It’s true; things do seem a little different around The Hedge. COVID, a new ministry team leader and the sadness of Brad’s impending move from ministry team member to board member have things a little out of sort. Change does funny things to people. In extreme situations it can cause us to disassociate from the source of the change and, at the very least, it makes us feel uneasy. While change is inevitable, it is sometimes more helpful to think about what remains constant. Focusing on the constants has a way of grounding us so that change doesn’t impact us as intensely. So what isn’t changing at The Hedge? Well, to quote the apostle Paul: “So now faith, hope, and love abide…” (I Cor. 13:13 ESV).
From the States (pg. 5-9)
Senior Saints – Truly a Minister’s Resource (pg. 10)
Steve Crawley – Years ago, I recall hearing a student minister remind his congregation that youth are not just the church of tomorrow, but a vital part of the church today. Likewise, a congregation’s senior saints are not the church of yesterday, but a vital part of the church today. Further, they have the potential to be an incredible resource to pastors… Senior bus trips to destinations of enjoyment are well deserved by our older members and have their rightful place on our church calendar. Still, a thriving senior adult ministry extends far beyond field trips and fellowships. It creates an atmosphere where aged men and women are used in an intentional way to invest in the lives of younger members of the congregation to help in fulfilling the church’s mission. Consider the following:
Living by Faith and Not by Sight (pg. 11)
Paul White – “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up” (II Chron. 36:22-23). Our God is good and faithful. He loves and cares for us, and He often provides deliverance for us in ways we do not expect. God promised to bring His people out of exile — then He provided Cyrus, the foreign king of Persia, as their deliverer. Not only did Cyrus restore Israel as a nation, he also commissioned the rebuilding of the temple. This was not the deliverance the Israelites expected, but they trusted in God anyway.
Spotlight On Missions (pg. 11)
Michael & Laura Strong – What a month it has been! Praise the Lord with us for what He has done: I am now teaching a weekly Bible Study for men in a post-prison release housing program, and God has been graciously leading in great gospel conversations. Two neighborhood boys asked us to start a study each week, and I got to explain the gospel to one. The girls in our Foundations Bible study group are growing in daily habits of grace and in sharing with and praying for each other. I have been able to meet with a handful of men over the last month to share what God is doing with the work here, and He is beginning to draw people to what we are doing. A new video teaching series is going online soon, including some teaching on Luke and a short break to work through a series on covenants in the coming weeks on YouTube and Facebook.
Adaptability in Planning Christmas Celebrations (pg. 12)
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance – Church staff throughout the nation are preparing for the Christmas season with both hope and uncertainty as a rising tide of coronavirus infections threatens to affect in-person gatherings in many states and communities. The number of COVID-19 cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) crossed the 11 million mark in mid-November and continues climbing. With community health and safety in mind, several states have tightened restrictions in hopes of slowing COVID-19 positivity rates before the approaching holidays…Preparing for Christmas services and other outreach events may require additional creativity, due to the uncertainty of what COVID-19 may bring.
Better Watch Out For Scam Artists (pg. 12)
Ark. Attorney General – The most popular shopping days are upon Arkansans and, whether shopping online or in-store, scammers can get pretty creative when trying to steal money from consumers. Con artists will take any opportunity to steal money, personal information or even your identity this holiday season. “It’s important for Arkansans to always be careful whether they are shopping online or in-store this Christmas season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Far too often, I’ve seen the lengths that scam artists will go to in an attempt to steal money from hard-working Arkansans. Attorney General Rutledge provides the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:
Ark. Galileans to Meet at Camp Beaverfork (pg. 12)
Dan Williams – The Ark. Galilean Fall Fellowship will meet at Camp Beaverfork (159 Beaverfork Road, Conway) Dec. 4-5. Registration will begin Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the tabernacle. The $25 camp fee per person is payable upon arrival. Make checks payable to Arkansas State Galileans. All campers must submit a medical/photo release form at registration. The form can be downloaded from the Galilean website, galileans.com. It must be signed by a parent or guardian for campers under the age of 18. Breakfast will be provided at camp. We should be finished before noon on Dec. 5.