Church Updates

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There have been numerous things happening in our church life since the beginning of the year, so below is a summary of major news and events of which we’d like our church body to be aware.

  1. As a reminder, this is our vision for the next 10 years: “Over the next decade, First Norfolk will raise up hundreds of leaders who will take thousands of people on a courageous adventure of hope. Fueled by power of the Holy Spirit and His Word, we will develop a team transformed by Jesus to radiate His rescuing light into the world. We see our members, like a fleet of lightships in dark and turbulent seas, illuminating the way to peace. We see people captured in the menacing waves of misery finding refuge in the hope that Jesus alone offers through the life-giving love and kindness we shine toward them. We see neighborhoods throughout the seven cities of Hampton Roads transformed by the light of hope we share. We see 1,500 life groups with 15,000 missionary followers of Jesus pulling people from the ocean of hopeless loneliness. We see lighthouse stations with platoons of people starting ten campuses in Hampton Roads and planting twenty new churches around the world, shining the light of truth and hope for those buffeted by the storm.
  2. Parking updates:
    1. We are adapting well to the parking changes that took place last fall.
    2. We are identifying current challenges and working on a solution.
    3. Shuttle pickups happen from 7:15 am to 1:15 pm on Sunday at three locations: the Cross Roads Center, the HRT lot, and the Interstate Commerce Center at Fortis College.
  3. We ended our 21 Days of Prayer journey on Feb. 4, but we still ask that going forward you continue to pray for our church, our nation, and our world. Read prayer points and prompts here, and continue to share your prayers on social media for First Norfolk and the advance of the gospel using #firstnorfolkpray.
  4. This Sunday and Wednesday, the left lane of Newton Road will be closed in both directions between Center Drive and Princess Anne Road/Kempsville Road. Please adjust your travel time accordingly. Find more information and see a map here.
  5. On April 16, we will gather along with hundreds of guests to celebrate the resurrection at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. We will have on exciting gathering at 10 am. Look for more details in the coming weeks. Begin to invite your friends and neighbors for this special worship gathering!

FAQs about Campus Catalyst

We welcome questions about Campus Catalyst and First Norfolk Advance. The most common questions we have had so far are about the second campus location. As you know, we have identified this as one of our strategic objectives for 2017. We don’t have much new information as the research and planning process is still in the early stages; however, we wanted to answer some basic questions:

  1. Where will the location be?

We don’t know yet, but we have been looking at two location possibilities. Last Sunday, Pastor Eric shared in worship that “the door has closed” for one of these locations. We are continuing to investigate the second possibility.

  1. When will it begin?

Originally, we had the goal of starting with a soft launch of the second campus on April 23, the week after Easter. Without having a location at this time, however, that time frame is not practical. We want to do this right and not rush into starting something that isn’t ready. We also don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach people, so we are diligently working on the plans for the new campus. We do not have a date at this time.

  1. Who’s preaching?

This has not been decided, but Pastor Eric will be delivering a message to all locations — either live in person or live via video — much of the time. Again, we are thinking and praying about what is best for the entire church.

  1. Who’s going to the new campus?

No one has been asked to go at this time. We have developed a leadership training process for equipping leaders for all locations. The first round of this training is happening now with a group of people. This will be rolled out to additional groups in the near future. We do not have a timeline for beginning the process of selecting a core team to start the second location, but we are working on it, and will know something soon.

 

 

21 Days of Prayer

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On Sunday, Jan. 15, our church will launch together in a 21-Day Prayer Journey. During these weeks, we will pray for our nation, our world, the advance of the gospel, and for First Baptist Norfolk. Please commit to joining us in our intercession. Feel free to join the conversation on social media using #firstnorfolkprayer. We look forward to walking this road together!

DAILY PRAYER GUIDES

Begin each session of prayer with adoration and confession.

7 am – Prayer for the peace of Hampton Roads, the United States, and our world.

  • Hampton Roads: Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Suffolk.

10 am – Prayer for government officials, the armed forces, and first responders.

  • Norfolk Mayor: Kenneth Cooper Alexander
  • Virginia Beach Mayor: Will Sessoms
  • Chesapeake Mayor: Alan P. Krasnoff
  • Portsmouth Mayor: John L. Rowe. Jr.
  • Newport News Mayor: McKinley L. Price
  • Hampton Mayor: Donnie Tuck
  • Suffolk Mayor: Linda T. Johnson
  • Hampton Roads is home to the world’s largest naval base. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Marines also have a presence in the area.
  • First responders are the police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, paramedics, rescuers, and more who arrive first during an emergency.

Noon – Prayer for the advance of the gospel in Hampton Roads, Virginia, our nation, and the world.

3 pm – Prayer for God to open the hearts of those around us as we share the gospel with them.

5 pm – Prayer for the First Baptist Norfolk staff and families. Prayer for God to open the door to the right location for a new campus.

  • Our staff are: Eric Thomas, Curt Breland, Jan Frost, Steve Harper, Phillip Herring, Julie Hunt, Darryl Meincke, Gail Motley, Claude Parent, Gary Sanders, Vernig Suárez, Jason Waters, and Brent Wilson. For more information on our staff, visit this page.
  • Church leadership has not yet decided on the location for the new campus, however, they are considering Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, since this is where the majority of church members currently reside.

9 pm – Prayer for the evangelization of the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Prayer for God to use our new campus to reach the lost and encourage the saved.

  • For more information on the our new campus (including our One-Year Goal and 90-Day Objectives), read this blog post.

WEEKLY PRAYER GUIDES

Take an hour each week to reflect and pray specifically:

Week 1 – Lord, draw us to Yourself that we might have the fullness of joy. Teach us to fear You and to trust You completely. Help our church be humble before You so that we might be consumed with Your presence and shine Your glory. Make us and our church what You want us to be to honor You.

Week 2 – Lord, be near to us as we cry out to You. Embitter our soul to sin, that we may hunger more for You. Swell our hearts to seek Your purposes above all else. Empower us by Your spirit to radiate your rescuing light into the world. Show us the part You would have us play in fulfilling Your mission for the church.

Week 3 – Lord, continue to open doors of opportunity for our church to make disciples of all people. Capture us with Your love so that we might offer refuge in Jesus to those captured in the menacing waves of misery. Grant us faith to obey what You are calling us to do as a church, and individually as followers of Jesus at First Baptist Norfolk.

Download a copy of the 21 Days of Prayer guide here: 21-days-of-prayer-card-combined

Another prayer for us

A father was talking to his 5 year old daughter and her friend. They were talking about birthdays. The friend’s birthday was on March 30 and the father’s was on March 27. He said, “Our birthdays are only 3 days apart.” She said, “Yeah, but you grew a lot faster than I did.”

This morning, following the apostle Paul, I pray that we might grow.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might” (Ephesians 1:15–19, ESV)

1. I pray that we might grow to know God more each day.

Paul prayed for his friends in Ephesus. He asked the Father of glory to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Now what does that mean? It is a prayer for followers of Christ to experience the fullest measure of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in their lives. He prayed that the Spirit would unveil before them the will of God and the ways of God so that they might know God more and more each day.

I pray that we might know God more and more each day. That we would be saturated by His Spirit so completely that we would know God’s will and ways. That we would surrender our hearts to Him so that His purpose and plan might cover us and consume us. That our heart might beat in concert with the Father of glory.

2. I pray that we might grow to know God’s work in our lives.

Paul prayed that the believers in Ephesus might have their eyes opened to God’s work in their lives.  He uses three phrases to describe this work: the hope of His calling, the glorious riches of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power.

The Rope of Hope. On any expedition, the rope is what connects us to that which is stable and secure. Hope is our rope! Hope is the certainty of our present reality as the chosen, adopted, accepted, forgiven, and sealed children of God. Hope is the ultimate unity and confident expectation of our future blessings as His people. It is the present and the future wrapped up in the blessings of God’s grace and mercy.

I pray that God would open our eyes to our hope for today and in eternity. God has called us to Himself in salvation. He is working in the details of our day because He has committed to us the glorious riches of heaven. God’s hand is working in the details of our day, not letting us go but holding on to us through thick and thin, good and bad, joy and sorrow, victory and failure.

The Family Photo. I love to take pictures of my family. A family photo reminds us of our lineage, encouraging us to press on. Paul prayed that their eyes might be opened to see their infinite value to God. As His people, He has given us an inheritance through Jesus Christ and the seal of His Spirit, but that is not what Paul has in mind here. Paul asks that God’s Spirit would open their eyes to see the “riches of the glory of His inheritance.” This is a description of God’s people who are His inheritance.

I pray that God would open our eyes to know how precious we are to God. We are His inheritance. His heritage. His treasure. We are the living, breathing, walking, talking trophies of His grace alive in the world reflecting His glory. God calls us His treasured possession.

The Reservoir of Power. We are in need of power in the face of the testing and trying storms that rage against us. We are in need of power for we are weak and feeble. We need power, and God provides this power for those who are His.

Paul prayed that believers might know the magnificent greatness of God’s power. The terms that Paul used point to something beyond our ability to contain, control, or concoct. He prayed that the believers in Ephesus would know the power that is beyond the ordinary directed by God toward believers.

I pray that we might know the exceeding greatness of that power and strength. It is fully displayed through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. That same power and strength is positioned for all who are Christ’s. We need not fear the storm, for God has conquered the greatest storm. We need not fear the enemy, for God has crushed the enemy. We need not fear the darkness, for God has pierced the darkness through the glorious light of the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Growth. I pray that we might grow to know God more each day. I pray that we might grow to know God’s work of hope, love, and power in our lives each day.

My prayer for us

Communion with God is oxygen for our souls. Prayer becomes the surround sound of fellowship with God who nourishes us with His presence. Prayer is not merely ritualistic words to speak in a particular time or place. Prayer is communion with God who changes our lives.

“Our lives must be as holy as our prayers. Our prayers are to prove their reality by the fruit they bear in the holiness of our life. True devotion in prayer will assuredly be rewarded, by God’s grace, with the power to live a life of true devotion to Him and His service.” ~ Andrew Murray

Paul and Timothy heard of the faith and “love in the Spirit” of the believers in the church at Colossae, and they thanked God for the progress of the gospel and the changed lives in the region. Beginning with verse 9, Paul and Timothy expand their prayer and pray for specific blessings for the believers in the church.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Colossians 1:9–12, ESV)

Paul’s prayer for the believers in Colossae helps us know how to pray for each other. I am praying daily for my family, friends, and our church.

1. I pray that we would be saturated with the knowledge of God’s will.

When I fill a glass with water, the glass may be overflowing with water but the glass isn’t affected. The picture of this text is different. To “be filled” is like sinking a sponge into a basin of water so that every pore of the sponge is saturated with water and the sponge grows to its greatest length and width and breadth.

The knowledge of God that we need is not some intellectual, informational growth. That’s not what Paul meant. The knowledge we need is relational; a knowledge founded in a proper attitude toward God (Prov 1:7) which leads to right behavior (Phil 1:9-10). We need God to fill us with Himself so that we grow in relationship with Him.

I am praying that God would soak our lives in Himself so that every pore of our saturated souls grows to its greatest depths and heights as followers of Jesus. When we are immersed in relationship with God, our hearts beat in time with His. Our minds move along the track of His desire. We gain wisdom (living life according to what God wants) and understanding (the application of what God wants to the details of our day).

2. I pray that God’s pleasure would be our highest priority.

It has been said, “The trouble with good advice is that it usually interferes with your plans.” We may see God’s path, but we have difficulty taking it. Paul’s prayer highlights the battle that rages within every believer. It is a war of pleasure. Whose pleasure is our greatest priority: my pleasure or God’s pleasure?

Paul prayed “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.” We know that we are pleasing God when we are fruitful in our work for Him and growing daily in our fellowship with Him. Pleasing God is an experience with God that does the good work that He has given us to do.

3. I pray that God would strengthen us by His power.

In the process of pursuing God’s pleasure, we need the strength of God’s grace to endure with joy. God in His grace empowers us with all might measured by the reservoir of His power.

“When by grace God’s power and compassion invade your life the result is that you have everything that you need.” ~ Paul David Tripp

This strength isn’t merely for our pleasure, but to bring pleasure to God with our lives. God gives us patience and longsuffering to complete the mission that He has given us with joy-fueled purpose.

4. I pray that God would grant us gratitude for His work of love.

Something amazing happens in us when we gain a greater gratitude for what God has done for us through Jesus. God has given us an inheritance, delivered us from the power of darkness, moved us into citizenship of His kingdom, and rescued us from our sins. When our minds are consumed with thoughts of God’s love for us, our hearts swell with songs of satisfaction in service to our King.

I pray that God would overwhelm us with His presence. God desires to make us fruitful for His pleasure. I pray that we grow in Him so that we live each day in true devotion to Him and His service.

Unwrap Christmas

This season we’re constantly on a quest for just the right present for those we love. Sometimes the search can lead us through the treacherous aisles of the department store, wrestling for linen or lace with lecherous, mauling mobs at the mall. It can lead us through the dense jungle of toy stores, while weird animals sing to us in weird voices and tones.

The first Christmas inspired an adventurous heart in people. Today, we find an explorers heart alive in a few men from the Orient in search for satisfaction, truth, and purpose. They were on the best quest, for they sought to pay homage to the King.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1–2, ESV)

When we come to Christmas, we have a great yearning for a quest fulfilled. There is beating in our soul the desire to taste the sweet nectar of peace saturated with purpose.  We want satisfaction!  And that is exactly what Christmas offers to all who pursue the King who is born in Bethlehem. I invite you to join me and others on this journey to seek the King, Jesus Christ.

When the wise men found Jesus, they found the treasure for which they searched. They found the treasure, for they found the King!  These men, who neither knew nor worshipped God, rejoiced with exceedingly great joy when they found the place of Christ’s birth.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10–11, ESV)

Here is the joy of Christmas unveiled. The Magi tasted transformation on the breeze of the Judean hills. They had searched for the King, and they had found Jesus who would change them forever.

Here is the joy of Christmas unwrapped for us today. Jesus Christ, the King, who has come to be the righteous ruler of His people, will transform our lives. He has come with good news to those in need. He has come to make whole those who have been shattered, to set free those who are in chains of sin’s guilt, to comfort those who mourn over their lost lives.

This season, we are on a quest for the treasure of Christmas. Jesus is the King who controls that treasure. We learn from the wise men that our search will be satisfied completely when we bow our lives in service to Him… when we receive the gift of life, joy, and forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross for our sin…  when we give Him the gift of all that we are.

I pray that you and I might unwrap Christmas fully. I pray that we would worship Jesus Christ the King. And Jesus fills our hearts with joy, with purpose, with forgiveness, with life. Today, on your quest for the treasure, travel to the King of Christmas. Turn to Jesus and trust Him to fill your soul with the joy and the life we all crave.

Responding to Christmas

How do we respond to the Christmas story? That’s the question we must answer today. Our response determines the joy that we experience. Now, look at the response of the shepherds. In the midst of their solitude and silence they sang the song of peace and pleasure. But they did not stop with the Christmas Carol.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15, ESV)

When God speaks, we must act. The shepherds broke out in a run to find the Savior who would give them forever the complete and full life showered by God’s favor. Like the shepherds, the promise of God’s movement in our lives must propel us to get to Jesus!

But do you believe what God says? That is a key question in experiencing the joy that God promises. The shepherds believed (Luke 2:16-17). They found Jesus just as the angels had reported, and they believed that this was the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord! Do you believe that Jesus is the One about whom the angels sang?

If we believe, then we must share the joy with others. The shepherds did not keep the joy of Jesus to themselves (Luke 2:17-19). When we are transformed by faith in Jesus, then we must share the joy with others. We must let others know what God has accomplished in Bethlehem. If we believe, then we must praise the Lord God! The shepherds gave honor to God for His mighty work of grace (Luke 2:20).  What a fitting response for us this season!

Receive the Christmas promise today! Celebrate with the angels!  Jesus Christ, the Peace Giver, has come. Weak and wounded, depressed and downtrodden, rebellious and rejected, despised and dismissed, hopeless and helpless, fearful and frightened…  you come! Come with the shepherds who raced to the place of Christ’s birth. Bow before Him and discover the life we’ve always longed to have. Bow before Him and receive the gift that He alone gives. Bow before Him and share the joy of life found in Him with others. Bow before Him and give praise and honor to God!

The Good News of Joy

Humanity searches for a life that is better. We yearn to know the powerful life that is beyond our reach, longing for something that we can’t create ourselves.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10, ESV)

God invaded the ordinary night in Palestine with “good news.” When God’s messenger came to the shepherds, he announced the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior. In coming to the shepherds, God was speaking to everyday people. He spoke, not merely to family, but to those who were typical people living in the world. And God introduced joy to them and to the world on that starry night in the fields outside Bethlehem.

Like the shepherds, we can become wrapped in fear, but the resounding word from God for us is, “Do not be afraid.” God’s Rescuer is for us! This is God’s great message to humanity in the birth of Jesus Christ. No obstacle stands before the Savior who has come. He has conquered death itself, and if Jesus Christ can defeat our deepest fear of death, then, make no mistake, He can conquer our daily fears that rock our soul. The Savior has come! Fear fades in the face of our Victorious King Jesus!

The Lord is now with us! The angel declared that the baby born in Bethlehem was Savior, something that was readily accepted when thinking of the birth of the Messiah. But the angel also said that the baby is the Lord. God Himself has come, and the sky fills with the special choir of angels who attend the throne of God, and they begin to sing for joy over God’s work of grace.

So, join with the chorus of the heavenly host and sing praise to God. The song of Christmas is joy, for God’s good news of peace and pleasure overwhelm the dreary landscape of an ordinary life. Through Jesus, we have peace with God as His pleasure transforms our ordinary into the extraordinary.