From the Pastor's Desk It’s Time to Rise

It’s Time to Rise

I hope you’re having a good day as we finally emerge from the multiple days of rain that were the remnants of Hurricane Ian. Please continue to pray for the people who have been effected by the hurricane, especially for the vulnerable and for the men and women who are giving of themselves to help, heal, and restore. Pray that God would give them strength, perseverance, and hope.

This past Saturday, I attended the annual gathering of the American Baptist Churches on New Jersey.  It was a great morning.  I had a chance to hear from some really great speakers, meet some folks I’d heard about, spend a little time with Pastor George, as well as hear about some of the great stuff that other NJ baptist churches are doing.  It was exciting.

The theme for the conference was “Rise”. The theme was taken from the story in John 5, where Jesus encounters a man at a pool who had been ill and paralyzed for 38 years. Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well, and he replied that he did – but that every time he tried to get down into the pool to be healed, someone would go in ahead of him. Upon hearing this, Jesus called him to “Rise! Pick up your mat and walk.” You should take some time and read the story for yourself. It’s a great one.

At the conference, as church leaders, we were similarly called to “rise”. The leaders of the conference helped us to see how many of us and our churches had become something like the paralyzed man: well intentioned, but after years of trying to do the same thing, still unable to get up and get well.  

It is time, we were challenged, to do something new to get well. 

We were called to “rise” to the moment.
We were called to “rise” from the wake of the pandemic.
We were called to “rise” for the sake of God’s Kingdom on earth.
We were called to “rise” from our fear, frustrations, and futility.
We were called to “rise” to be the church that the world needs – the church that God is calling it to be for the world. 

It is time, we were told, to take up our mat and walk.

I loved it. I felt challenged, encouraged, and inspired. I also felt sorry that you weren’t there with me to hear it with me. 

But here’s where you do come in: I invite you to pray with me.

And here’s what I mean. I believe that God has good things for Central – big things, new things! – for us to “rise” to, in order to reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ. But I don’t know (yet) what those good, big, and new things are. I believe that, as a church, it is time for us to start to pray with this in mind. I am newly committing to pray for vision, wisdom, and inspiration for what Central is being called to “rise” for.  

Will you join me?

Will you pray with me that God would give us a concrete vision for our future?
Will you pray with me that God would give us wisdom as to discern what He’s calling us to?
Will you pray with me that God would inspire us – fill us with His Spirit – to give us courage, and boldness, new ideas and new life?

Will you pray with me that God would make his call to “rise” clear to us as a church?

For the man at the pool, it was to take up his mat and walk. What will his call be for Central? That’s what I’m asking you to join me in praying for.

Join me in seeking his future for our church together. 

Thank you,

Matt Agresti
Pastor, Central Baptist Church

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